Olympian Tested Positive For Cocaine Because Of Kissing

| by Michael Allen
Shawn BarberShawn Barber

Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber competed at the Summer Rio Olympics even though he tested positive for cocaine about a month earlier, which was reportedly due to kissing a woman whom he met through his Craigslist ad.

The 22-year-old world champion (2015) tested positive for the drug on July 9 at the Canadian championships in Edmonton, where he won and set a world record, notes CBC News.

Only days before the Olympics in August, Barber's lawyers defended him over doping charges before the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC). The hearing was kept secret until October.

Barber could have been suspended for four years, but instead he lost his Canadian title and was allowed to compete in the Olympics where he came in 10th place.

Barber told journalists the week of Oct. 3 on a conference call that his positive drug test did not affect his Olympic performance: "I went out and did as well as I could."

The newly-revealed SDRCC report notes that Barber posted a personal ad under a fake name in the Craigslist's "casual encounter" section for a "professional" woman who was "drug and disease free."

Barber testified before his hearing at the SDRCC that his ad's purpose was to "find a partner for the week or weekend" in Edmonton as "a way to relieve stress" via a "sexual encounter of some sort."

Barber testified that he got a picture from a man of a mother of two whom Barber thought would be "more cautious, reserved" because she was a mom.

The woman told the SDRCC that she was the man's girlfriend at the time, and that she snorted cocaine a few hours before heading over to an Edmonton hotel with her boyfriend to meet up with Barber. The woman said that she also did more cocaine in a hotel room bathroom.

According to Barber, he did not see any signs of the drug in the hotel room or witness the woman using the drug.

Barber recalled that he and the woman kissed several times during an encounter that took about 30 minutes, and that the woman's boyfriend did not leave the room.

Barber asserted that he did not pay for the encounter with the stranger.

Barber tested positive for cocaine the next day after setting a national record at the Canadian championships.

"I didn't know that kissing a girl could transfer coke," Barber told the media on his conference call. "I didn't know I could test positive."

Barber's lawyer, Paul Greene, told the SDRCC that Barber should not have been banned because of the so-called "no fault" rule, as Barber acted without fault or negligence because he did put up a disease- and drug-free ad. Greene added that it was "impossible" for Barber to know that by kissing a woman he would test positive for the drug.

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) noted that Barber's online solicitation was part of "creating a suspicious and risky situation that led to the transfer of cocaine," and added that the ad was a "premeditated effort by Barber to have a sexual encounter with a stranger in a hotel room."

The CCES asked arbitrator Ross Dumoulin to ban Barber for a year, but Dumoulin agreed with Barber's lawyers and said the Barber "had no way of knowing and had no reason to suspect" the woman had used cocaine; Barber did not see any cocaine in the room; Barber also requested a drug- and disease-free woman on Craigslist.

"Online dating, online encounters, those are kind of the future," Barber told journalists on his call. "And people that were around trying to date 15 years ago, they didn't have the same luxury. But this is 2016 and this is the way things are going for us."

The Washington Post noted in January that 101 murders have been linked to Craigslist ads, according to the Advanced Interactive Media (AIM) Group, an Internet watchdog group.

"Their attitude is, 'We’re safe, we have billions of safe transactions' -- sure they do," Peter Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group, told the newspaper. "But every single day, there are also rapes, robberies and murders linked to Craigslist. And that is a serious issue."

Craigslist did not respond to The Washington Post, but the social media site has said in the past that most of the transactions on the site are legal and that it Craigslist ought not be held responsible for the ones that are not.

Sources: CBC News, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Shawn Barber/Twitter

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