Withdrawal, suspension leave Australia’s Olympic showjumping hopes in disarray

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Edwina Tops-Alexander and Identity Vitseroel.
Edwina Tops-Alexander and Identity Vitseroel. © Edwina Tops-Alexander

Equestrian Australia is working with the country’s Olympic Committee and the FEI on “a solution” for its showjumping riders at Tokyo 2020, after one of the team’s three members was suspended.

Team member Jamie Kermond was provisionally suspended this week under the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy.

» Update: Aust jumpers get Olympic nod to ride as individuals

Following a test conducted by Sport Integrity Australia on June 26,  2021, Kermond’s A-sample tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine, which is prohibited in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy.

Kermond is prohibited from participating in any WADA compliant event, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while the provisional suspension is in place. Kermond has the opportunity to have his B-sample analysed, Equestrian Australia said in a statement, adding that the organisation had offered support services to Kermond.

Normally, when a team member cannot compete, the reserve would take the spot. But in Australia’s case, its showjumping reserve, Rowan Willis, had already withdrawn, citing the lack of a guaranteed start. Ranked 59th in the world when the Australian team was announced, Willis is Australia’s highest-ranked showjumper. His selection as reserve, behind fellow Australian riders Edwina Tops-Alexander (No. 311), Katie Laurie (No. 469) and Jamie Kermond (No. 1150), raised some eyebrows.

Before withdrawing, Willis said he had carefully weighed up the options “and consider it in the best interest of my horse Carrots [Blue Movie] not to undertake such a demanding global travel schedule when the EA has made it clear there is no tactical plan to start her”.

Following enquiries about the selection process, EA said in a statement: “It should be noted that the FEI World Athlete Rankings are not included in the Tokyo 2020 Nomination Criteria, as points for these rankings are accumulated solely by the athlete, meaning they may be accrued with numerous horses. All Australian Equestrian Team Olympic Nomination Criteria is combination focused.”

Tops-Alexander and Laurie are hoping to be able to compete as individuals, but as of July 22, Equestrian Australia said it had “no answers” regarding that possibility. Laurie was selected with Casebrooke Lomond, and Tops-Alexander with Indentity Vitseroel.

“For the benefit of our Jumping, and broader Equestrian Team, we want to have the matter resolved promptly and are working tirelessly with the AOC to determine a solution. As soon as the information becomes available all our stakeholders will be informed,” EA said.

Kermond was to have boarded a flight to Tokyo on Wednesday, and ridden Yandoo Oaks Constellation, owned by Kerrie Winning, at the Games.

He said in a statement that the positive result was “from a single recreational use of the drug during a social event and had no connection with my sport of equestrian”.

“I am extremely upset and remorseful as to what has happened, and I accept full responsibility. I am truly sorry as I have let a lot of people down including my family and teammates,” he said.

“Hopefully one day I can be forgiven for my mistake amends through better actions and continued contribution to the sport I know and love.″⁣

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