Just two months after beating Ali Bernard at the U.S. Olympic trials, Lee has been banned from wrestling for a year due to testing positive for tetrahydrocannabinol acid, a marijuana metabolite. She has been forced to forfeit her spot on the U.S. Olympic team and her shot to bring home a gold medal.
Lee is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and she proved it against Bernard.
Bernard finished fifth in the 2008 Olympics and third in last year's world championships. She was a great competitor, but Lee took care of her with ease.
This impressive showing against one of the world's best proved that Lee had a legitimate shot at the gold in London, but now we will never know if she could have taken it.
Lee issued this statement (per John Branch of USA Today):
I apologize to USA Wrestling, my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supported me for my mistake. I will continue to train, and hope to be able to represent my country at the 2016 Olympic Games.
While she will not get the chance to compete for this year's gold, she seems optimistic about the 2016 Olympic Games.
Will Stephany Lee ever win a gold medal at the Olympics?
Lee is already 27 years old and in the prime of her career. By the time the 2016 Games roll around, she will be 31, and there will be a new crop of wrestlers who will be competing for the gold.
With a year off from competition, Lee might struggle to return to the sport at the level she had been accustomed to. While she has promised to keep training, it is very different when there is not a big meet coming up.
If she can avoid a third failed drug test and compete in the Olympics, she still has next to no shot at winning the gold in 2016.
She will be too old and poorly trained, and we will never see her win the gold medal.