Cocaine passed to pole vault world champion by ‘kissing’

Shawn Barber

Shawn Barber was one of Canada’s main medal hopes

Pole vault world champion Shawn Barber was right to compete at the Olympic Games despite earlier testing positive for cocaine ingested during a sexual encounter, says Athletics Canada.

Barber, 22, posted an online ad seeking a casual encounter with a woman who was “drug and disease free” the night before the Canadian Olympic trials.

He won the title and set a national record, but will have to forfeit both.

His case on 5 August heard that the drug was passed on through “kissing”.

An independent arbitrator ruled no fault or negligence for an anti-doping rule violation.

The national governing body called it a “fair and reasonable decision”.

“Forensic toxicologists have looked at the case and understood… that it was impossible to have taken this amount of cocaine intentionally,” said Barber’s lawyer, Paul Greene. “You have inadvertent ingestion of cocaine that is passed to an athlete by way of kissing which is exactly what happened.”

Barber faced a possible two-year ban from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).

His case was heard on the day of the Olympics opening ceremony, with the decision released six days later on 11 August.”At no time during my actions, did I even fathom the possibility of being able to be contaminated with cocaine,” said Barber in a statement.

During proceedings it was established Barber sought the encounter to relieve stress.

The woman involved said she had consumed cocaine and during their meeting kissed Barber several times without informing him she had taken the drug.


Barber won the men’s pole vault at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing

“The arbitrator listened to all of the evidence and made the decision that the athlete had exercised the utmost caution and therefore was at no fault,” said Paul Melia, president and chief executive of CCES.

Barber competed on 15 August and said the Games were “quite an ordeal”.

Despite being one of his country’s main medal hopes as 2015 world champion and 2014 Commonwealth bronze medallist, he finished 10th in Rio.

French tennis player Richard Gasquet had a provisional 12-month ban overturned in 2009 when it was found he had ingested a banned substance through kissing.

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