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Canada loses team showjumping place at Tokyo Olympics

The Canadian showjumping team has lost its place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after a rider tested positive for a prohibited substance.

Nicole Walker was provisionally suspended by the FEI on 11 November after testing positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, from a sample taken on 7 August at the Pan American Games, Lima.

A spokesman for the FEI said Nicola requested a hearing before the Panam Sports disciplinary committee, which took place on 4 December, where it was decided Nicole’s results from the competition would be disqualified and replaced with team member Lisa Carlsen, meaning the team dropped from fourth to seventh.

“Following confirmatory analysis of the B sample, which confirmed the presence of benzoylecgonine, the athlete requested a hearing before the Panam Sports disciplinary commission, and which the FEI joined via teleconference as an observer to the proceedings,” he said. “The commission decided article 11.2.2* of the FEI anti-doping rules for human athletes, which states ‘the athlete’s results will be subtracted from the team result, to be replaced with the results of the next applicable team member’ applies in this case.”

The spokesman added the disciplinary commission ordered Panam Sports to recalculate the team results accordingly.

“The resulting recalculation means that Canada now drops to seventh on a finishing score of 84.07 and therefore loses its team quota place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This has now been reallocated by the FEI to Argentina, which originally finished fifth in Lima on 62.19 and is now promoted to fourth place,” he said.

The spokesman said because Argentina has obtained a team quota place, Canada will take an individual slot earned. There were 15 individual places available for countries that had not secured a team place, allocated via a point system, one of which was earned by Argentina. As Argentina now has the team place, the individual slot goes to Canada, based on points. He added that Nicole has the option to appeal the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“Under the terms of Article 10.2.2 of the Panam Sports anti-doping regulations, responsibility for results management in terms of sanctions beyond the event itself is referred to the applicable international federation, meaning that any period of ineligibility would be imposed by the FEI, not Panam Sports,” he said.

“As this is still an ongoing legal process until the FEI tribunal has ruled on any additional sanctions, in order to maintain the integrity of the process, the FEI will not comment further on this case at this time.”

In a statement Nicole said she is filing an appeal.

“We are fighting for the Canadian equestrian team’s right to go to the Olympics,” she said.

“Panam Sports accepted that my positive test was based on the consumption of coca leaf tea on August 7th. We have a strong case. Thank you for your continued support.”

A spokesman for Equestrian Canada said the federation is “firmly committed” to clean sport and “standing behind its athletes”.

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“We fully support Nicole’s decision to bring an appeal forward to the CAS,” he said.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the ongoing legal process, EC will not comment further on this case at this time.”

“I am confident that Team Canada and Nicole will receive a fair hearing before the CAS,” added Tim Danson, Nicole’s lawyer.

Do you think this is the right decision? Let us know your views by emailing hhletters@ti-media.com with your name, nearest town and county for the chance to be featured in the letters page of a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine…

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