Equestrian Nicole Walker’s failed drug test at the Pan Am Games has officially cost Canada’s show jumping team a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For now, at least.
Aurora’s Walker, 26, announced Tuesday she will file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to challenge decisions that disqualified her Pan Am Games results and, ultimately, resulted in the Canadian team being bumped from the Olympics.
At the summer Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, Walker tested positive for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, in a urine sample she gave Aug. 7 — the same day she and three Canadian show jumpers placed fourth in the team event to automatically qualify for Tokyo’s Summer Games.
She claims her positive drug test was produced by her unknowingly drinking coca tea, a popular local brew in Lima.
“My priority right now is to continue to fight for the Canadian equestrian team,” Walker said in a written statement regarding her CAS appeal.
“The team deserves to go to the Olympics.”
Walker is a member of the Stronach family, which operates international auto parts and horse racing empires; her grandfather is Magna founder Frank Stronach. Her mother is Belinda Stronach, a former member of Parliament and currently chairman and president of the Stronach Group, which owns horse racing tracks and associated betting technologies in North America. Her father is Don Walker, Magna International CEO.
Walker had a Dec. 4 hearing before the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission, which has the power to disqualify an athlete. The commission did just that and tossed her individual results from Lima (she was fourth overall) and her results in the team event.
On Tuesday, the sport’s global governing body, Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), announced the Canadian team’s placing in Lima was “recalculated” to seventh (Walker’s results were replaced with those of teammate Lisa Carlsen) and that Argentina was now going to the Tokyo Games instead.
Equestrian Canada, the national governing body, said in a statement it “remains firmly committed to clean sport and to standing behind our athletes” and that “we fully support Nicole’s decision to bring an appeal forward to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
Tim Danson, Walker’s Toronto lawyer, said in as statement he’s “confident that Team Canada and Nicole will receive a fair hearing” at the CAS.