The host nation’s Olympic dressage team has lost one of its top scorers, Morgan Barbancon Mestre, following her 18-month suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Equestrianism is aligned to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, and elite athletes must notify sampling authorities of their whereabouts via a platform called ADAMS for the purposes of random dope testing out of competition. Barbancon Mestre was accused of non-compliance three times in a 12-month period, and in April was initially suspended for three months by the French anti-doping agency AFLD.

Feeling she had no choice, she appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), to keep her Paris selection hopes alive. But CAS has not only dismissed the appeal, but imposed a considerably longer ban which is not appealable. Barbancon Mestre, currently world-ranked number 20, is now grounded through October 2025. The ban is automatically recognised by the FEI and the French national federation, FFE.

CAS has previously increased athletes’ suspensions when it feels the original penalty was insufficient, although it is unusual to multiply it by six. CAS’s reasoning is not yet published.

Nowadays, athletes update ADAMS by phone app. When initially sanctioned by AFLD, Barbancon Mestre’s lawyers said she had no prior issues in her 12 years on the programme but was now “regularly a victim of malfunctions in the ADAMS software, preventing her from correctly entering her location data.”

She told that this occured when competing in Leipzig, Germany in 2022, where she could not transmit her data, leading to samplers finding her absent when they visited her home unannounced; the app’s alleged failure to record data submitted on September 30 until October 3, which counted as a “no show;” and in Omaha, where she had a bad internet connection and no network, meaning the samplers again turned up at her home while she was overseas (she was sampled in Omaha next day.)

After the April decision, FFE announced it retained confidence in the rider and noted AFLD did not think her omissions were intentional. Neither FFE or Barbancon Mestre have issued further reaction to the CAS decision.

Barbancon Metres is of French-Spanish descent. She rode for Spain until April 2018, when she swapped to France, winning the French national championship a few months later. She was only 20 when she rode at London 2012, finishing 23rd in the individual standings. With her Paris contender Habana Libre A she led France to a Nations Cup win in Rotterdam last year.