Qatar looks like being the latest country in danger of forfeiting its Olympic place with news that two top jumping riders tested positive to the cannabinoid Carboxy THC during the FEI Group F Tokyo qualifier in Morocco last October.
A case status update by the FEI Tribunal today (January 7th) shows proceedings have begun against Sheikh Ali Al Thani, a member of the ruling family and Qatar’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, in which he finished sixth, and Bassem Mohammed. They are respectively ranked fourth and fifth on the FEI’s Arab regional standings and rode in the key team qualifier in Rabat. Egypt won, but Qatar secured the second available Tokyo slot for by finishing eighth behind non Arabic nations that were already qualified.
Neither the FEI or Qatar national federation have issued any statement so far. However, even when a rider can prove he was not at fault, or that he would have been granted a Theraputic Use Exemption (TUE) had he applied in time, disqualification is non-negotiable under standard FEI and WADA anti doping procedures. In that eventuality, the Group F team slot would pass to Morocco.
Canada has already forfeited its Tokyo place due to the positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, returned by Nicole Walker at the Pan Ams.
Any qualified country unable to take up its team place is instead entitled to send an individual rider to the Olympic Games.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revised its stance on cannabinoids in 2013. Cannabidiol (CBD), which has medicinal purposes, is no longer a prohibited substance, but tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana is still on the list, at a threshold level some observers regard as lenient.
WADA summarised its stance on cannabinoids for 2020 here. WADA says: “All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited including any preparation from cannabis or any synthetic cannabinoid. Natural ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and synthetic THC (e.g. dronabinol) are prohibited. All synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of THC are prohibited.
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is not prohibited. However, athletes should be aware that some CBD products extracted from cannabis plants may also contain THC that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.”
In dressage, Brazil and South Africa have also been forced to give up their Tokyo team places for different reasons: insufficient riders achieved the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MERs) by December 31st.