Team Canada out of the Olympics after Losing Appeal Against Pan-Am Games Disqualification!

Lausanne, Switzerland – January 16, 2021 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has made its decision in regards to appeals made by Canadian Jumping athlete Nicole Walker (CAN) and Equestrian Canada (EC) against the disqualification by the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission (Pan-Am Sport) of the athlete following an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima (PER).

The disqualification of the Canadian team’s results in the 2019 Pan American Games occurred after Nicole Waker (CAN) allegedly failed the doping test. A sample taken from Nicole Walker (CAN), who was a member of the fourth-placed Canadian team and also finished fourth with Falco Van Spieveld in the individual final, tested positive for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Prohibited Substance List. The sample was taken on 7 August, the day of the team final in Lima.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic quota places were available to the three best-ranked teams from Groups D (North America) and/or E (Central & South America) at the Pan-American Games 2019, excluding the teams already qualified. The three teams that earned qualification in Lima were Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

In its decision of 11 December 2019, the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission disqualified the individual results obtained by Nicole Walker on 7 and 9 August 2019, and her results from 6 and 7 August 2019 were replaced with those of the fourth Canadian team member for the team final, meaning that Argentina earned a team quota place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

According to Article 11.4 of the Panam Sports Anti-Doping Rules, an anti-doping violation by a member of a team (outside team sports) also leads to disqualification of the result obtained by the team in that competition.

According the terms of Article 10.2.2 of the Panam Sports Anti-Doping Rules, responsibility for results management in terms of sanctions beyond the event itself shall be referred to the applicable International Federation. This means that any period of ineligibility would be imposed by the FEI.

As a result, Walker had been provisionally suspended by FEI, from 8 November 2019 to 26 September 2020, when the provisional suspension was lifted in a preliminary decision by the FEI Tribunal following a request by the athlete. Nicole received support from both Equestrian Canada and teamates as in statements to the media.

The appeal to CAS was heard via videoconference on 21 and 23 December 2020, with the FEI as one of a number of third parties. Both Ms. Walker and Equestrian Canada requested that the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission decision be set aside and that the results she obtained in Lima be reinstated. A successful appeal would have meant Canada’s reinstatement to fourth place in the team competition and a qualification for the Canadian Jumping Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

While the CAS decision on disqualification of the Canadian team results is final, the full merits of the case still need to be heard by the FEI Tribunal, which will decide on any further sanctions to be imposed on the athlete.

The CAS ruling means that the results for Team Canada in the jumping competition at the Pan American Games 2019 are disqualified. As a result, Argentina’s Jumping team quota place for the Tokyo Olympic Games is now confirmed.

Equestrian Canada issued a statement declaring that disappointed to learn of the rulings by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that they would wait  until the reasoned Arbitral Award, which is due in the coming weeks, before commenting further at this time.

Details on this case can be found here.

The updated results of the Pan-American Games 2019 can be found here.

Information on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, including the Qualification System for Jumping is available here.

Source: FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale / Equestrian Canada / Court of Arbitration for Sport

Photo: © FEI