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FEI reallocates Canada’s 2020 Olympic team jumping quota slot to Argentina

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Photo © Erin Gilmore Photography Nicole Walker and Falco Van Spieveld. Photo © Erin Gilmore Photography.

The FEI has announced that one of the three Tokyo 2020 Olympic team quota slots for jumping from the Pan-American Games in Lima (PER) in August, has been reallocated following an adverse analytical finding in Nicole Walker – a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth. Walker herself has stated that she will fight the decision and file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). “My priority right now is to continue to fight for the Canadian Equestrian Team. The team deserves to go to the Olympics,” said Nicole Walker in a statement. Equestrian Canada stands behind Walker’s decision to appeal to CAS, stating: “EC remains firmly committed to clean sport and to standing behind our athletes. We fully support Nicole’s decision to bring an appeal forward to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

Walker, who also finished fourth in the individual final with Falco Van Spieveld, was provisionally suspended by the FEI on 11 November after testing positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, which is a prohibited substance under the FEI’s Anti-Doping Rules for Human Athletes (ADRHA). The sample was taken on 7 August, the day of the team final in Lima.

Following confirmatory analysis of the B sample, which confirmed the presence of benzoylecgonine, Walker requested a hearing before the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission, which took place on 4 December. The FEI joined via teleconference as an observer to the proceedings.

Walker has in a statement informed that Panam Sports accepted that she unknowingly ingested coca tea at breakfast on August 7th which caused the positive test result. “Coca tea is a prevalent and legal beverage that is widely available and common in Peru. It has a similar appearance and taste to green tea and is packaged using similar colours and imagery,” the statement exlains.

However, the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission decided that Article 11.2.2* of the FEI ADRHA applies in the case. The article states that: “the Athlete’s results will be subtracted from the team result, to be replaced with the results of the next applicable team member”.

In line with this decision, Walker’s results from both the team and individual competitions at the Pan-American Games are disqualified, and her results in the team competitions on 6 and 7 August replaced by those of the fourth Canadian team member, Lisa Carlsen. The Commission ordered that Panam Sports 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. 

The reallocation means that the following twenty National Olympic Committees which have qualified jumping teams for Tokyo are: Japan, USA, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Ukraine, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, Qatar, New Zealand, China and Ireland.

There were also four individual Olympic quota slots on offer in Lima, one of which was earned by Argentina. Now that Argentina has obtained a team quota place through the reallocation, Canada will take one of the individual slots. Colombia, Dominican Republic and Chile earned the other individual quota places.

Tim Danson, Walker’s lawyer, commented on the case – saying: “There is no basis in fact or law to disqualify Canada from the 2020 Olympics. Canada qualified for the Olympics fair and square even if the scores Nicole earned after she drank the coca tea are discounted. I am confident that Team Canada and Nicole will receive a fair hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.” 

Under the terms of Article 10.2.2 of the Panam Sports ADRs, 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.

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.


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