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Walker's appeal denied, Canadian show jumping team remains disqualified from Tokyo

Canadian show jumper Nicole Walker's appeal of a doping violation has been denied by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Canadian show jumping team's disqualification from the 2019 Pan American Games stands, which means Canada won't have a team in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Canada finished fourth in the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru to qualify for Tokyo, but the disqualification of Walker's scores dropped the team to seventh.

Walker tested positive for a cocaine metabolite, which the 27-year-old from Aurora, Ont., says she inadvertently ingested by drinking coca tea.

Canada will be able to enter just one horse and rider in the individual event in Tokyo.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport based in Lausanne, Switzerland heard joint appeals from Walker and Equestrian Canada on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23.

CAS announced its decision Tuesday and said in a statement that reasons for the decision will be given to Walker and Equestrian Canada "in the coming weeks."

“We  are extremely disappointed with the CAS conclusion," Walker's lawyer Tim Danson said Tuesday in a statement. "Until it releases the reasons for the decision, we cannot comment further at this time. 

"Once the reasons are released and we have had an opportunity to review them, we will have more to say at that time. Nikki has always been fighting for her teammates and their place at the Tokyo Olympics.”

Equestrian Canada also expressed disappointment in the CAS ruling and said in a statement it will postpone comment until it is informed of the reasons for it.

The Canadian team had to finish in the top four in Lima to be among the 20 countries competing for Olympic team gold at the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pan Am Games were Canada's last chance to qualify. 

Walker was also stripped of fourth place in the individual event in Lima. She said last year in a statement she has never used illicit drugs.

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

Walker tested positive for benzoylecgonine in a sample taken the day of the team final Aug. 7 in Lima.

The coca plant contains alkaloids that can be chemically extracted to concoct cocaine.

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.

The Canadian team of Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze and Amy Millar 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 2008 in Beijing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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