Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber tested positive for cocaine back in July, just weeks before the start of the Rio Olympics, where he was scheduled to compete. But despite the positive test, Barber—who won a gold medal in the pole vault at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing—was later cleared to compete at the Olympics and eventually finished 10th overall. And why was he allowed to compete in spite of his failed drug test? Well, that’s where things get interesting.
According to a ruling that was released on Thursday by the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, Canadian officials ruled that Barber did not knowingly use cocaine. Instead, they have ruled that the 22-year-old accidentally ingested cocaine after meeting up with a woman at a hotel in Edmonton on July 8 during the Canadian Championships. Barber apparently met the woman after finding her in the "Casual Encounters" section on Craigslist, and during their brief time together, they had a sexual encounter that lasted for about 30 minutes and included them kissing. And prior to their meeting, the SDRCC found that the woman, identified only as "Pamela," had used cocaine in the hotel room the two shared. So they believe that Barber, who said he was looking for a "drug-free and disease-free" partner in his Craigslist ad, unknowingly ingested cocaine by kissing the woman and then tested positive for it later. It’s why the SDRCC eventually let Barber participate in the Olympics.
"The panel concludes that it was impossible for the player to know, still exercising the utmost caution, that when indeed kissing Pamela, she might inadvertently administer cocaine to him," an arbitrator wrote as part of the SDRCC ruling. "As the player did not know Pamela’s cocaine history and did not see her, during the entire evening, taking cocaine or appearing to be under its influence, how could he imagine that she had been consuming cocaine? And even more how could he have been in a position to know that, even assuming that he knew that she had been consuming cocaine, that it was medically possible to be contaminated with cocaine by kissing someone who had ingested cocaine beforehand?"
Sound crazy? It is. But as USA Today points out, this actually isn’t the first time someone has successfully used the defense that Barber just employed. French tennis player Richard Gasquet tested positive for cocaine back in 2009, but he avoided a year-long suspension by claiming he unknowingly ingested cocaine while kissing a woman.