22 Apr 2021
- CAS 2020/A/6695 Nicole Walker v. PANAM Sports
- CAS 2020/A/6700 Equestrian Canada v. PANAM Sports
- CAS 2020/A/7386 PANAM Sports v. Nicole Walker and Equestrian Canada
FEI 2019 FEI vs Nicole Walker
June 4, 2021
In August 2019 the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) reported an anti-doping rule violation against the Canadian Athlete Nicole Walker after her A and B samples tested positive for the prohibited substance Cocaine.
On 11 December 2019 the Panam Sports Disciplinairy Commission decided to disqualify the Athlete and her results. Consequently under the PANAM Rules Team Canada's 4th place result in the Team Competition was also disqualified.
Hereafter in January 2020 the Athlete and Equestrian Canada appealed the PANAM Sports Decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). PANAM Sports filed a Cross-Appeal in March 2020. Each of the appeals was heard together and all are dealt with collectively in this one single award.
In these appeals also the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Argentinian Equestrian Federation (FEA) and the Argentinian Olympic Committee (COArg) particpated and filed their positions in this matter.
The Athlete requested the Panel to set aside the PANAM Sports Decision and to reinstate her results obtained at the PANAM Games. Equestrian Canada appealed only in relation to the issue of the substraction of the Athlete's scores from Team Canada's results. It adopted, in writing and orally, all arguments and submissions made on behalf of the Athlete.
The Athlete demonstrated with corroborating evidence that the positive test was the result of her ingestion of tea at the hotel where she stayed at the occasion of the Pan American Games. She was not aware at that time that the green tea she took was in fact coca tea.
The Athlete did not challenge the disqualification of her individual results obtained on 7 and 9 August 2019 but did challenge the disqualification of her results she had obtained on 6 and 7 August 2019 for the team competition which consequently resulted in disqualification of Team Canada's 4th place result.
PANAM Sports contended that the Athlete had failed to establish that the anti-doping rule violation was the result from the consumption of tea containing Cocaine at the relevant time. Further PANAM Sports asserted that under the PANAM Rules it was clearly mandated to automatically disqualify the results of the Athlete and Team Canada because of the Athletes anti-doping rule violation.
Considering the evidence in this case the Panel:
- (a) Accepts that the Athlete did not intentionally ingest Cocaine at any relevant time on or prior to 7 August 2019;
- (b) Accepts that there was no unintentional ingestion of cocaine by the Athlete at any relevant time prior to 7 August 2019;
- (c) Finds that the AAF was the result, and only the result of, the unintentional ingestion of cocaine by the Athlete on the morning of 7 August 2019 as a result of her using a teabag containing cocaine which she took from the breakfast service area of the Los Incas Lima Hotel.
The Panel deems that PANAM Sports was mandated under the Rules to disqualify the results of Team Canada obtained on 7 August 2019. However the Panel finds that there is no basis for the automatic disqualification of the Athlete's results obtained on 6 August 2019.
Therefore the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on 22 April 2021 (Operative Part 12 January 2021) that:
1. The appeals filed by Ms Nicole Walker and Equestrian Canada on 2 January 2020 against PANAM Sports with respect to the decision rendered by the PANAM Sports Disciplinary Commission on 11 December 2019 are dismissed.
2. The appeal filed by PANAM Sports on 14 March 2020 against Ms Nicole Walker and Equestrian Canada with respect to the decision rendered by the PANAM Sports Disciplinary Commission on 11 December 2019 is partially upheld.
3. The results for Team Canada in the jumping competition at the 2019 Pan Am Games are disqualified, which includes forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.
4. The costs of the arbitration to be determined and served separately to the Parties by the CAS Court Office shall be borne by ¼ by Ms Nicole Walker, ¼ by Equestrian Canada and ½ by PANAM Sports.
5. Each Party shall bear its own costs and expenses incurred in connection with these arbitration proceedings.
6. The amici curiae, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Federation Internationale Equestre (FEI), the Argentinian Equestrian Federation (FEA) and the Argentinian Olympic Committee (COARG), shall each bear their own costs and expenses incurred in connection with these proceedings.
7. All other motions or prayers for relief are dismissed.
The Athlete's anti-doping rule violation was referred to FEI in November 2019. Both the Athlete and FEI agreed that the violation was not intentional and that the Athlete bears No Significant Fault or Negligence with a light degree of Fault or Negligence. The Athlete accepted the proposed FEI sanction and agreed to fulfil the Education Requirement within 1 year.
Therefore the FEI Tribunal decides on 4 June 2021 in accordance with the mutual consent of the Parties to impose a fine and a 1 year period of ineligibility on the Athlete starting on 26 September 2019.