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Tokyo dream ended for Canadian showjumpers by appeal ruling

Canada’s last hope of fielding a showjumping team at this summer’s Olympics has been quashed in a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Canada lost its Tokyo team place after rider Nicole Walker tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine at the 2019 Pan American Games. Ms Walker was disqualified at a Panam Sports disciplinary committee hearing in December 2019, meaning the team dropped from fourth to seventh place and with it went their Olympic qualification.

The Argentinian team, which originally finished fifth, were promoted to fourth following the amended result and took the Tokyo spot.

Ms Walker, who has always denied taking cocaine, saying she “do[es] not use illicit drugs ever”, and put the positive test down to contamination as a result of drinking cocoa leaf tea, and brought an appeal against the Panam Sports disciplinary committee hearing result to CAS.

Equestrian Canada supported and endorsed Ms Walker’s appeal to CAS to overturn her disqualification and reinstate her results, which would have put the Canadian team back in fourth and return their ticket to Tokyo.

Panam Sports argued against the appeal at the hearing, held by video conference on 21 and 23 December 2020.

The CAS panel issued its decision on Tuesday (12 January), dismissing the appeals filed by Ms Walker and Equestrian Canada, and partially upheld Panam Sports’ case in ruling that the results for the Canadian team are disqualified. This includes the forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.

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The arbitral award, with grounds for the panels decisions, will be notified to the parties “in the coming weeks”.

A statement from Equestrian Canada said the organisation was “disappointed” by the CAS rulings.

“[Equestrian Canada] will await the reasoned arbitral award before commenting further at this time,” it added.

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