Colombian Olympian Omar Pinzón exonerated by CAS in cocaine case

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Omar Pinzon’s long fight to clear his name is finally over, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) issuing its final decision exonerating him earlier this week.

Despite the fact that he has never used cocaine, Mr. Pinzon tested positive for cocaine while competing at the Colombian National Games in Cali, Colombia, on November 10, 2012. Confident that he was innocent, Mr. Pinzon submitted to a polygraph examination, and was found to be truthful that he had not knowingly used cocaine. When he was suspended by the national swimming federation for Colombia (FECNA) for 2 years, Omar Pinzon appealed to the CAS.

Following a hearing in New York in February 2014, CAS has now issued its final decision, fully exonerating Omar Pinzon. In its decision, the CAS tribunal noted the following:

  • the CAS tribunal did not believe that Omar Pinzon had ever used cocaine;
  • the testing laboratory in Colombia had not used the standard test for cocaine, and did not establish that it even followed its own required testing protocols;
  • there is no known scientific study that would support the test results reported by the testing laboratory in Colombia;
  • the results reported by the testing laboratory in Colombia are virtually impossible in a human urine sample after the ingestion of cocaine, meaning that the test results are inconsistent with biology; and
  • the lab result can only be explained by lab error, manipulation of the sample or adulteration of the sample.

In addition, the CAS tribunal ordered that FECNA must pay Omar Pinzon in excess of US $50,000 for the costs of the arbitration and his legal fees.

In responding to the CAS decision, Omar Pinzon stated as follows:

“I am extremely happy with the CAS decision, because it proves what I already knew, which is that I was completely innocent. The past year has been extremely difficult for me and my family, and I look forward to returning to competition later this month.

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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