James Stewart will not be able to line up when the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship gets underway in just over two weeks. The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has denied his appeal, meaning that his suspension for a failed drug test – which runs through August 11th, 2015 – will be upheld.
The ruling comes more than a year to the day after the Yoshimura Suzuki rider originally tested positive for a banned substance – later identified as Adderall – after the Seattle Supercross race in 2014.
Although he had a prescription for the drug, Stewart didn’t fill out the required form for a Therapeutic Use Exemption, which resulted in a violation of the drug policy. After a period where he was provisionally suspended but still allowed to race, the FIM hit him with a 16-month suspension in December, retroactive to the time of the drug test. After a lengthy delay from the FIM, Stewart was recently given the chance to appeal the suspension in hopes that he could be cleared to race the Nationals this summer. The FIM’s ruling this week has since eliminated those hopes.
With a return for the season-opening race at Hangtown out of the picture, the former champion – who has been testing with the Yoshimura Suzuki team while awaiting a decision – will now turn his attention to the 2016 season.
“It’s extremely disappointing that my appeal was denied,” Stewart said in a statement from the team. “But I’m glad this is over and now I can turn my full attention back to preparing for the few events I’ll be competing in this year and coming back strong for 2016.”
Proving that he was still an elite talent last season, Stewart swept both motos at the June race at High Point, just days before news of his provisional suspension broke. After the announcement though, he struggled on the track, failing to finish better than eighth overall at any remaining races. He later opted to sit out the final four rounds of the series and ended up ninth overall in 450 Class points.
Stewart is one of the most popular riders in the series and has won three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross titles, including a 450 Class championship in 2008.
This year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will kick off Saturday, May 16th at Hangtown.