Canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe is the latest Canadian Olympic medal hopeful to get caught up in a doping controversy. She has tested positive for the banned substance Ligandrol — which can help build and repair muscles — a year out from the Tokyo Games. Here’s a look at five previous doping incidents involving Canadian Olympic athletes:
BEN JOHNSON(SPRINTER)- Doping Incident
In a case that made headlines worldwide, Johnson tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol after winning the 100 metres at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a then-record time of 9.79 seconds. He was stripped of his Olympic title and his record was voided.
After initially denying any wrongdoing, Johnson admitted to doping in the 1989 Dubin Inquiry, a Canadian government investigation into drug abuse. He was also relieved of his 100-metre title from the 1987 world championships in Rome after admitting to taking steroids while preparing for that race.
ROSS REBAGLIATI (SNOWBOARDER)- Drug Controversy
Rebagliati had his giant slalom gold medal from the 1998 Nagano Games rescinded after traces of THC, the main psychoactive element of cannabis, were found in his bloodstream following a drug test. THC was not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances at the time, and Rebagliati argued the substance was the result of second-hand smoke. The decision to strip Rebagliati of his medal was eventually overturned.
He became somewhat of a minor celebrity after the decision, with a writeup in Sports Illustrated and an appearance on Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show.”
SILKEN LAUMANN (ROWER)- Doping Incident
One of Canada’s most respected amateur athletes, Laumann suffered a brief hit to her reputation when pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications, was found in her system after she helped Canada to a gold medal in quadruple skulls at the 1995 Pan American Games. The Canadian squad had its medal stripped, but Laumann made a convincing case that the positive test was the result of a botched prescription by team doctors, and she was not suspended by rowing’s international governing body.
Laumann, a world champion who gained fame when she improbably won a single sculls bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games despite having her right leg severely broken in a rowing accident the previous year, went on to win a silver at the ’96 Olympics.
Pseudoephedrine has had an inconstant status among banned substances. It was removed from the list in 2004 before WADA re-introduced it in 2010.
ERIC LAMAZE (EQUESTRIAN)- Doping Incident
Lamaze lost his spot on Canada’s equestrian team for the 1996 Olympics after receiving a four-year ban for a positive cocaine test. His ban was overturned a year later when an arbitrator ruled that Lamaze’s personal story of growing up around drugs was a mitigating factor to his offence.
Lamaze quickly rebuilt his reputation and has become one of Canada’s most decorated jumpers, including an individual gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
RYDER HESJEDAL (CYCLIST)- Doping Controversy
The only Canadian to win a prestigious Grand Tour event when her captured the Giro d’Italia in 2012, Hesjedal was caught up in cycling’s famous doping scandal that made headlines when Lance Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. The United States Anti-Doping Agency alleged Armstrong was the ringleader of an extensive doping program involving erythropoietin (EPO), which is used to stimulate the creation of oxygen-rich red blood cells.
Disgraced Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen alleged in his 2013 book “Yellow Fever” that he taught Hesjedal how to take banned substances, including EPO. While Hesjedal did not confirm any specific allegation against him, the two-time Olympian said in a statement: “I sincerely apologize for my part in the dark past of the sport. I will always be sorry.”
“Even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.”
The Canadian Press