Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

FEI Suspends Eric Lamaze Over Forged Doctors’ Letters

PUBLISHED

ADVERTISEMENT

The fallout from forged medical documents continues for Eric Lamaze, as those involved in litigation against the retired Olympic show jumper seek redress. 

The Fédération Equestre Internationale announced Monday, Oct. 9, that it has suspended Lamaze for four years, beginning Sept. 12, because he submitted fake documents purportedly related to his alleged cancer treatment. The documents were submitted as part of an ongoing case being heard in front of the international Court of Arbitration for Sport over Lamaze’s refusal to submit a drug-testing sample at an FEI show jumping competition in 2021.

“The athlete has committed an anti-doping rule violation under ADRHA Article 2.5 (tampering), due to the submission of fabricated medical documents during an ongoing CAS proceeding,” the FEI announced in a statement Monday. “In accordance with ADRHA Article 8.3.2, the athlete was deemed to have waived a hearing, admitted the violation, and accepted the proposed consequences because he did not respond to the charge.”

Lamaze’s former attorney, Tim Danson, submitted the documents to the FEI when he still represented the show jumper.

“Believing that the doctors letters were authentic and truthful, as represented by Eric, I submitted them in support of his request for an adjournment so he could recover from his recent surgery and treatment,” Danson wrote in a Sept. 18 email.

The FEI has suspended Lamaze through Sept. 11, 2027, and fined him 15,000 Swiss francs (approximately $16,500) as well as the cost of the organization’s legal fees. Lamaze or other organizations involved in the matter—the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport or the World Anti-Doping Agency—have 21 days to appeal the suspension to CAS.

Retired Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze, shown here in 2016 riding Fine Lady 5 to individual bronze at the Rio Olympic Games, have been suspended by the FEI for four years for tampering after submitting fake doctors’ letters in an ongoing human anti-doping case. Lindsay Berreth Photo

“Further detail regarding this matter will follow upon the conclusion of the ongoing CAS proceedings,” the FEI noted in its statement, referring to the original anti-doping case, which stems from Lamaze’s reported refusal to submit a sample for human drug testing at the Valkenswaard CSI5* (the Netherlands) in June 2021.

ADVERTISEMENT

Forgery Fallout Expands To U.S. Case

The former co-owners of Nikka VD Bisschop, a horse that represented Canada at last year’s world championship and recently was named to the country’s team for the upcoming Pan American Games (Chile), sued Lamaze in January for fraud, breach of contract, and breaking Florida law, claiming he owes them more than $1.4 million related to the purchase and sale of that horse and another. Shortly after Lamaze’s medical records were proven fakes in a Canadian court, they filed a nearly 300-page motion in Florida court accusing the retired show jumper of perjury and fraud against the court and asking that the court sanction him and his attorney by throwing out all of their arguments and finding in favor of the plaintiffs, Lorna Guthrie and Jeffrey Brandmaier.

In the motion filed Sept. 14 by Guthrie and Brandmaier, they argue through their attorney that all mentions of Lamaze’s alleged fight against brain cancer—not just the specific documents discovered to be forgeries by a private investigator—are fraud and perjury. In the motion, their attorney laid out the various times in court proceedings when Lamaze himself talked about receiving cancer treatment, for example during questioning in a Feb. 24 hearing, and the times his former attorney in the case, George Coe, referenced his treatment. 

Coe, who filed a motion to withdraw as Lamaze’s attorney after the forgeries were exposed, filed a supplement to that motion on Sept. 20 arguing that he was unaware of Lamaze’s apparent lies and that he had to withdraw, in part, because his “services have been used to provide the Court with false information.”

“At this time and after months of attempting to obtain additional information, counsel does not know if other representations regarding Mr. Lamaze’s health are false, however, the fact that some of the facts I relayed to the Court are false or appear to be false mandates an immediate end to counsel’s representation of the Defendants in this matter,” Coe wrote, emphasizing that he relied on what Lamaze told him about his health and did not have independent confirmation of those statements.

In their motion, Guthrie and Brandmaier included a Sept. 10 article from the Toronto Sun in which reported Lamaze claimed the forged documents were never meant to be used in Canadian court and “instead meant to be used to move a court date in an American lawsuit that had frozen his bank accounts.”

Reference to the forged documents first appeared in Guthrie and Brandmaier’s case when Lamaze’s attorney asked that a hearing be moved forward, ahead of the supposed surgeries that would render Lamaze unable to testify.

ADVERTISEMENT

The motion to strike also contains text messages between Guthrie and Carlotta Gordon, who worked as Lamaze’s executive assistant during the period in which Lamaze purchased “Nikka” with Guthrie and Brandmaier and later sold the mare to Mark Rein’s Rein Family LLC, the horse’s current owner. In the text transcripts submitted as evidence, Gordon calls Lamaze a “liar” about his claims he was being treated for cancer. The messages also reference the FEI’s anti-doping case against him.

“The FEI is coming after him and he knows it,” Gordon texted in one message to Guthrie on April 1, 2022, according to transcripts.

“He thinks they are focused on the cocaine and the testing [b]ut they are focusing on his health wether [sic] it’s true or not,” she continued in a subsequent series of messages. “Because he never showed up to any of the FEI court request [b]ecause he said he is sick. But he doesn’t proof [sic] anything from doctor (of course because he can’t proof [sic] anything)”

In a deposition earlier this year, Gordon—who first signed and later recanted a statement supporting the plaintiffs’ version of the disputed purchase agreement for Nikka—said she did not remember the text conversations and that she did not have specific knowledge of Lamaze’s health because he was “very private.” 

In their motion to strike, Guthrie and Brandmaier’s attorney speculated Gordon was pressured into recanting her statement.

“Ms. Gordon previously advised Ms. Guthrie that Mr. Lamaze had lied about his cancer treatments, but it appears that Ms. Gordon may have been pressured, such that, at her deposition, she suddenly could not ‘remember’ her own prior written statements or sending her own text messages to Ms. Guthrie,” the motion notes. “We now know that Ms. Gordon’s testimony at her deposition is consistent with Mr. Lamaze’s fraud on the court, and in fact, Ms. Gordon may have been pressured by Mr. Lamaze and/or his team to be less than forthright in her deposition testimony.” 

The judge in that case scheduled a Sept. 22 hearing in which Coe officially withdrew as Lamaze’s attorney and the plaintiffs’ entered a dozen pieces of evidence, including the text chains, the forged doctors’ notes and correspondence with the private investigator who uncovered the forgeries.

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse