5th May 2021

Equestrian Canada may appeal against Tokyo 2020 disqualification

Equestrian Canada is considering an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) anti-doping Decision which means that Argentina would take its place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In January, CAS dismissed an appeal from Nicole Walker requesting that a Decision to sanction her for an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) involving a metabolite of cocaine be set aside. 

Walker argued that her ADRV was due to drinking coca tea during the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. The CAS upheld a PanAm Sports Decision to disqualify her results, which included a fourth place finish in Individual Jumping. This meant that Canada’s Lima 2019 results were bumped down from fourth to seventh place, as confirmed by the international equestrian federation (FEI). The reasoning behind the CAS Decision had not been received by the parties to the case until recently.

‘EC is pleased that the CAS Panel accepted that Nicole innocently drank a cup of coca tea, believing it to be green tea’, read a statement from Equestrian Canada. ‘EC is further pleased that CAS found that the Canadian Show Jumping Team was not warned about the prevalence of coca-based products in Peru and that neither the Canadian Show Jumping Team nor Nicole had any knowledge that coca meant cocaine. Specifically, CAS found that the ingestion of the prohibited substance contained in the tea “was the result, and only the result of, the unintentional ingestion of cocaine… as a result of her using a teabag containing cocaine which she took from the breakfast service area of the Los Incas Lima Hotel.”

‘However, EC is extremely disappointed that despite the Panel’s recognition of Nicole’s integrity and commitment to clean sport, her affected results at Lima 2019 were not reinstated, resulting in the Canadian Show Jumping Team remaining disqualified from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. EC has stood by Nicole throughout the discipline and appeals process and together, we will explore the option of appealing the CAS decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.’

Walker has never been sanctioned with a ban due to her ADRV, and she doesn’t feature on any of the FEI’s lists of doping cases. She is listed as an active athlete on the FEI’s database. In October 2020, the FEI told Horsesport that an FEI Tribunal had accepted her appeal against provisional suspension on 26 September 2020.

Coca tea is legal in Peru, where the Lima 2019 Pan American Games took place. It was also responsible for a 14 month ban issued to Peruvian footballer Paolo Guerrero in 2019, despite it being accepted that his positive test was due to drinking coca tea at the Swisshotel in Lima.

It is understood that coca tea doesn’t contain ‘cocaine’ as such. It contains alkaloids which provide the base for cocaine, but in much smaller amounts. A cup of coca tea prepared from a tea bag is understood to contain approximately 4.2mg of organic coca alkaloid, whereas a dose of cocaine is understood to contain between 20mg and 30mg.

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