Canada's Nicole Walker rides Falco van Spieveld, during the Grand Prix event of the National at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Saturday, June 8, 2019. The world's top sport court determined Canadian show jumper Nicole Walker inadvertently ingested a cocaine metabolite drinking South American tea, but did not reinstate the Canadian team for this summer's Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Sport court clears Walker of wrongdoing, but denies show jumping team Tokyo entry

Sport court clears Walker of wrongdoing, but denies show jumping team Tokyo entry

The world’s top sport court determined Canadian show jumper Nicole Walker inadvertently ingested a cocaine metabolite drinking South American tea, but did not reinstate the Canadian team for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, published its reasoning Tuesday behind an earlier decision to deny an appeal by Walker and Equestrian Canada.

Walker of Aurora, Ont., was stripped of her results in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, after testing positive for benzoylecgonine on the day of the team final.

Canada tumbled from fourth to seventh in the team event, and out of the last qualifying berth for Tokyo.

Canada can send just one horse and rider for the individual competition to the Olympics.

CAS accepted Walker’s contention that the tea bag she took from the hotel breakfast service the morning of the team final contained the cocaine metabolite.

While coca and coca leaves are illegal in Canada under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, coca tea is legal and consumed in several South American countries.

Coca tea is considered an altitude sickness remedy in Peru.

“I am very pleased that CAS accepted what I said as factually and scientifically correct,” Walker said Tuesday in a statement. “I take my health, competitions, and duty as a team athlete very seriously.

“While I appreciate the personal vindication, that is not as important to me as the team being able to compete.”

While the CAS panel said in its decision it was satisfied that Walker’s violation “was not caused by the deliberate ingestion of cocaine” the body also determined she and other competitors were contractually bound by Pan Am Sports anti-doping rules, and CAS did not have grounds to overrule them.

“It’s very unfair that my teammates are barred from competing at the Olympic Games when the truth has been accepted,” Walker said. “Team Canada competed fairly and has earned the right to be in Tokyo.”

Walker, 28, placed fourth in the individual event and helped Canada finish fourth in the team event in Lima.

A possible Canadian medal in team show jumping in Tokyo is no longer there for the country’s top riders.

Equestrian Canada and Walker’s lawyer indicated they may not give up the fight, however.

“Canada won fair and square. It is wrong that Canada is out of the Olympics and is replaced by Argentina,” lawyer Tim Danson said in a statement.

“There is an appeal route to the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Lausanne. The grounds to appeal are very narrow. We are looking at this very seriously.”

Equestrian Canada has released a short-list of candidates to compete in the individual event in Tokyo: 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze of Montreal; Amy Millar of Perth, Ont.; Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, B.C.; Mario Deslauriers of New York and Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, Ont.

“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 in Lausanne,” the organization said in a statement.

Lamaze, Foster, Millar and Yann Candele lost a jump-off for the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Lamaze, Ian Millar, Jill Henselwood and Mac Cone won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008.

Walker is the daughter of Belinda Stronach, president and chairman of The Stronach Group and former member of Parliament from 2004 to 2008.

Walker told CAS she ran out of the green tea bags she had brought from Canada to Lima.

She thought she’d selected green tea from the hotel’s breakfast service, and didn’t understand the labelling “matte de coca” because she doesn’t speak Spanish.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Airport CEO Graham Ingham has ambitious plans for the airport. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer Regional Airport revenues climb in 2020

Bringing in more business is the 2021 goal, says director

City council will have to wait longer to hear back from administration on possible alternative sites — if the homeless shelter is moved from Red Deer downtown. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Alternative sites for homeless shelter will be explored by the City of Red Deer

Council gave administration more time to return with a report

Quentin Lee Strawberry was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with stabbing death of Joseph Gallant in March 2019. (Photo from RCMP)
Updated: O’Chiese man found not guilty of 2019 stabbing death of Red Deer man

Quentin Strawberry found guilty of assaulting murdered man’s common-law partner

(Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer property tax bills are in the mail

Red Deer 2021 tax notices are on their way. Red Deer property… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Canada's Tyler Ardron, right, tries to block the kick by Italy's Callum Braley during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Fukuoka, western Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kyodo News via AP
Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Darron Cummings
Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Canada forward Liam Millar (23) moves the ball past Bermuda defender Eusebio Blankendal (2) during the second half of a World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux
Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Most Read