28th December 2020

Equestrian Canada’s Tokyo 2020 participation hinges on CAS appeal

Equestrian Canada is waiting to hear if it will be able to compete at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, due to a complicated case involving Jumping athlete Nicole Walker. The Canadian equestrian team initially finished fourth at the Lima 2019 PanAmerican Games, but was later bumped down to seventh place after Walker returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for a metabolite of cocaine.

The international equestrian federation (FEI) reallocated Canada’s Tokyo 2020 slot to Argentina, after the PanAm Sports Disciplinary Commission disqualified Nicole Walker’s Lima 2019 results, which included a fourth place finish in Individual Jumping. Everyone appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which heard three cases between 21 and 23 December this year (CAS 2020/A/6695 Nicole Walker v. PANAM Sports; CAS 2020/A/6700 Equestrian Canada v. PANAM Sports CAS 2020/A/7386; and PANAM Sports v. Nicole Walker and Equestrian Canada). 

Equestrian Canada has issued two statements about the case (here and here), but has refused to comment further. Although the FEI confirmed the relocation of Canada’s slot, Walker doesn’t feature on any of its lists of doping cases. She was never sanctioned with a ban and is listed as ‘active’ on the FEI database. The FEI told Horsesport that an FEI Tribunal had accepted her appeal against provisional suspension on 26 September 2020.

Walker has denied ever using illicit drugs. ‘I was shocked and devastated to hear about these results’, wrote Walker on Instagram (below) in November 2019. ‘I do not use illicit drugs, ever. Whether in Peru, or in any competition setting.’ 

She argues that PanAm Sports accepts that her 7 August AAF was due to her consumption of coca leaf tea on the same day (see below). The same argument was advanced by Peruvian footballer Paolo Guerrero, who was sanctioned with a 14 month ban despite it being accepted that the AAF was caused by drinking coca tea at the Swisshotel in Lima.

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