Canadian show jumper Nicole Walker barred for positive doping test
'Shocked, devastated' athlete helped Pan Am team gain 2020 Olympic berth
Canada's participation in show jumping at the 2020 Olympic Games is in jeopardy because of a positive drug test at the Pan American Games.
Canadian Nicole Walker has been provisionally suspended by the world governing body of equestrian for testing positive for a cocaine metabolite at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
Walker placed fourth in the individual event and fourth in the team event.
The 26-year-old from Aurora, Ont., tested positive for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, in a sample taken on the day of the team final, according to a statement from the FEI on Tuesday.
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"I do not use illicit drugs, ever," Walker said in a statement. "I was shocked and devastated to hear about these results."
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Canada's fourth-place result in Lima qualified the country for the team event at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Canada finished fourth in team show jumping at the 2016 Rio Games.
FEI tribunal would hear appeal
"Whether in Peru, or in any competition setting for that matter, I am always fully aware of the possibility of being tested and would never expose myself to any substance that could test positive," Walker said.
Walker can apply to an FEI tribunal to lift the provisional suspension. Disqualification from the Pan American Games is under that games organization's jurisdiction.
Walker has exercised her right to request a hearing before the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission, according to the FEI.
"Once the Disciplinary Commission has made a decision on the disqualification of the athlete, and team Canada's final placing, the FEI will be in a position to make any necessary reallocation of the Olympic quota place," the governing body of equestrian sports said in a statement.
Walker is the daughter of Belinda Stronach, president and chairman of The Stronach Group and former Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2008.
"Nikki has dedicated her whole life to the sport she loves. She would never do anything to jeopardize that," Stronach said in a statement.
Support from mother, team
"I love her and support her, not only because I'm her mother, but because she has great integrity and is incredibly loyal, dedicated and honest.
"I'm confident that there is another explanation for this and fully stand behind her."
Canadian show jumping team chef d'equipe Mark Laskin also believes in Walker's innocence.
"In the last several years, I have spent a lot of time with Nikki at competitions." he said in the statement.
"I have consistently been impressed by how seriously she takes the sport and her consummate professionalism.
"I am one hundred per cent certain she would never take any prohibited substance or do anything that would put the Canadian team or her career in jeopardy."