Road To The Olympic Games

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber comes out as gay

Canadian pole vault world champion Shawn Barber has publicly come out as gay in a Facebook post.

Reigning world champion makes announcement on Facebook

Canada's Shawn Barber, the reigning men's pole vault world champion, announced he is gay in a Facebook post. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Canadian pole vault world champion Shawn Barber has publicly come out as gay.

Barber made the announcement in a Facebook post early Monday morning.


Barber, 22, was born in Las Cruces, N.M., and holds dual citizenship. He chooses to compete for Canada and calls Toronto home.

He has a long list of pole vaulting accomplishments, including winning both the world and Pan American titles in 2015. He also became the youngest man to vault six metres and set an NCAA indoor record of 5.91m during his time at the University of Akron.

Barber, though, had a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he was among the favourites to win the gold medal. After barely making it through qualifying, he finished 10th.

Tested positive for cocaine before Olympics

Barber was allowed to compete in Rio last August despite testing positive for cocaine at the Canadian championships in July in Edmonton, where he won his event and set a national record.

Barber faced a four-year ban from competition for the positive test before successfully appealing to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.

The pole vaulter and his lawyers claimed that the positive test was the result of a sexual encounter with a woman in a hotel room during the Canadian championships that had been arranged online. Barber testified that he did not take cocaine himself, but that the drug entered his system as a result of kissing the woman.

In her testimony, the woman said she snorted cocaine both earlier in the day and in the hotel bathroom moments before Barber arrived.

Though he avoided a ban, Barber was stripped of his Canadian title and the positive test was made public in October.

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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