Connect with us


Curler Briane Harris faces 4-year suspension after testing positive for banned substance, plans to appeal | CBC Sports



Curler Briane Harris faces 4-year suspension after testing positive for banned substance, plans to appeal | CBC Sports

Four-time Canadian women’s curling champion Briane Harris has been provisionally suspended for up to four years after testing positive for the banned substance Ligandrol.

But the 32-year-old from Winnipeg told CBC Sports she plans to appeal the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, arguing she was unknowingly exposed to it through bodily contact.

In a statement to CBC Sports, the World Curling Federation would only acknowledge that an athlete in their testing pool had tested positive and been suspended, but would not name the person. 

Harris, the lead for Team Einarson, was deemed ineligible at last month’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts, just hours before the opening game of the event in which she and her team were the defending champions.

“I was entirely shocked and devastated when I became aware of my positive test result,” Harris said in a statement to CBC Sports. “As someone who does not take any supplements at all, and even hesitates to take Advil or Tylenol, I was in disbelief that this could happen to me.

“I was crushed that I could not play in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and help my teammates defend our title. My goal now is to resolve this as soon as possible to preserve my Olympic dreams; it would be unbearable to have that in jeopardy over no wrongdoing on my part.”

Ligandrol is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. It is used to increase energy and muscle growth.

Harris was tested by doping control officers on Jan. 24 and notified of her positive test on Feb. 15.  A second sample, called the B sample, was returned last week and confirmed the positive test.

“All I can hope for myself at this time is that the truth will prevail,” Harris said, but offered no other details on her claim.

Both Harris and Curling Canada had offered no comment since the initial release deeming Harris ineligible, and Harris’s lawyers, Amanda Fowler and Dr. Emir Crowne, say the silence was justified.

Curling Canada says it could not release information earlier

“Any silence on Ms. Harris’s part, or any of the parties familiar with this matter, was simply due to the need to maintain strict confidentiality while the B Sample was being tested,” the lawyers said in a statement to CBC Sports.

Harris’s representation is expected to appeal next week.

Curling Canada CEO Nolan Thiessen also said it was not his organization’s right or jurisdiction to release the information. 

“We heard all the comments, but we knew it wasn’t our right to disclose,” Thiessen told media Tuesday morning after CBC Sports revealed the infraction.

Thiessen said Curling Canada provides its athletes with as much information as possible around doping. 

“There’s a ton of training and education that everyone goes through when they enter the testing pool or a national championship,” he said. “We always look to get better and that goes for everything.

“I think this will naturally put fear in probably a lot of athletes. If I was an athlete playing right now I would start saying how to go about my day-to-day business and make sure I stay onside. That’s all we can ask from everybody.”

Team Einarson expresses support for Harris

Harris has been a part of the four-time Scotties champion Team Einarson since the 2018-19 season and her team expressed their support for her.

“We will continue to have Briane’s back through this process. She is our teammate in every sense of the word, and we will always support her and stand by her,” the team said to CBC Sports in a statement. “This will be our only statement on the situation. As always, we will continue to curl to the best of our abilities for our team, our families, our sponsors, and our country. Thank you for the ongoing support.”

The team said for the time being, Krysten Karwacki will curl in her place.

The details of Harris’s case are very similar to that of Canadian canoe star Laurence Vincent Lapointe in 2020, who was found to have trace amounts of Ligandrol in her system after failing an out-of-competition doping test ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. 

She appealed and won after it was found her former boyfriend had been taking the banned substance and transmitted it to Vincent Lapointe. Despite missing a world championship while fighting the case, she was still able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, winning two medals.

Continue Reading