Equestrian Nicole Walker loses appeal for positive drug test at Pan Am Games

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Nicole Walker competes during the equestrian jump at the Army Equestrian School in Lima, Peru on November 14, the 14th day of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.

Raul Sifuentes / Getty Images

Equestrian Nicole Walker lost her appeal for a positive doping test at the 2019 Pan American Games, while winning on an individual turnaround giving the Canadian show-jumping team the chance to compete at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Ms. Walker helped Canada’s four-man team qualify for the Olympics by finishing fourth in a jumping event at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, disqualified after testing positive for cocaine, only a banned substance. . Ms. Walker blamed the positive test on drinking coca tea, a legal and common pick-me-up in South America containing trace amounts of cocaine. With Ms. Walker concluding the results, the organizers removed the Canadian team from the Tokyo Games, and replaced it with an Argentina team.

Ms. Walker appealed the Pan Am Games decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland with the support of the Canadian team and the domestic governing body of the sport, Equestrian Canada. In a ruling released on Tuesday, the court agreed that Ms. Walker’s positive test resulted in drinking a cup of coca tea at the athletes’ hotel in Lima, but refused to overturn a Panam Sports Discipline Commission decision that allowed Canada Was disqualified for this Summer Olympics.

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“It’s very unfair that my teammates are barred from competing in the Olympic Games,” said Ms. Walker, the daughter of businessman Belinda Strong and her ex-husband, Don Walker, a recently retired executive of Auto. Producer Megan International Inc. “Team Canada competed heavily and earned the right to live in Tokyo.”

Equestrian Canada stated that it was deeply disappointed that despite the recognition of Nicole’s honesty and commitment to clean sports, her affected results were not restored in Lima 2019, resulting in the Canadian show-jumping team being disqualified.

A habitual green tea drinker, Ms. Walker ran into bags brought from Canada on the final day of the Pan Am Games, and arrived at the team’s hotel for a coca tea in a green package at a breakfast buffet.

“I am very happy that I considered what Cass said was factually and scientifically correct,” Ms. Walker said. “While I appreciate the personal condemnation, it is not as important to me as the team is capable of competing.”

Equestrian Canada said it was “pleased that Cass found that the Canadian show-jumping team had not been warned about the prevalence of coca-based products in Peru, nor did the Canadian show-jumping team and Nicole have any knowledge That coca means cocaine. “

During Ms. Walker’s appeal, her legal team showed that if drinking coca tea had any effect on the show jumper, it would be negative. “The case has nothing to do with cheating or gaining any competitive advantage,” said Tim Danson, Ms. Walker’s attorney. “In contrast, the CAS panel found that if coca tea had any effect on Nicole, it would be detrimental to her athletic performance.”

Ms Walker can appeal this decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Lausanne, Switzerland. Mr Danson said the move was under consideration. However, he said: “The grounds are too narrow to appeal.” Equestrian Canada said it supported the tribunal to appeal Cass’s decision.

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Three other athletes from the Canadian Pan Am Jumping Team who missed a chance to ride in the Tokyo Olympics are Airen Ballard from Ontario, Lisa Carlson from Alberta and Mario Deslarers from Quebec. Ms. Carlsson and Mr. Desleriers competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and Mr. The Deslauriers also participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Ms. Ballard has not competed in the Olympics. Over the years, Canadian equestrians have won five Olympic medals for jumping.

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