In the wake of a since-deleted Facebook post in which retired Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze wrote about being “targeted” for drug testing, a Fédération Equestre Internationale spokesperson confirmed Thursday, Sept. 14, that the organization is in the midst of legal proceedings against Lamaze over his apparent refusal to submit to testing at a 2021 competition. FEI documents also indicate the organization recently added a tampering charge to that case, stating forged documents recently submitted to a Canadian court were submitted in the FEI’s anti-doping case as well.
“There is an alleged human anti-doping violation against Eric Lamaze for refusal to submit to sample collection, and the matter is ongoing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. At this stage, the FEI cannot comment further on this,” the spokesperson wrote. “Mr. Lamaze is not provisionally suspended and thus entitled to compete, while he had confirmed to the FEI that he had retired. He is also entitled to coach and train.”
The incident happened in June 2021 at the Longines Global Champions Tour Valkenswaard CSI5* in the Netherlands. At that competition, Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 won the grand prix qualifier and made the jump-off in the grand prix, where they finished fifth.
In minutes from a Sept. 11 FEI Directors’ Meeting, published Friday, the FEI legal department indicated a tampering charge has recently been added to the ongoing case, which is scheduled for its next CAS court date next week:
“You may have seen in the media that Eric Lamaze had provided forged medical certificates in a Canadian Court case. The same forged medical certificates have been submitted in the CAS proceedings and the FEI has charged Eric Lamaze with a separate violation (tampering).”
Lamaze posted to Facebook after the fraudulent documents—which detailed his cancer treatment in Belgium—were publicized. In the Canadian case, a family suing Lamaze hired a private investigator, who contacted the doctors and hospital the documents purportedly were from and learned they were fake.
Lamaze published, then deleted several days later, a post on his personal Facebook page. Though difficult to decipher due to spelling and punctuation issues, in it he said that he and his longtime friend and attorney Tim Danson had gone “head to head” with the FEI over the alleged drug testing violation.
“I felt like the [FEI] was on mission to kick me out of the sport,” he wrote, saying that during his cancer treatments, he would often stop taking cancer medications early in the week before a show so that, if drug tested, he would test clean.
At the Valkenswaard show, according to Lamaze’s Facebook post, a drug tester who had no identification and didn’t look like an official approached him about collecting a sample. Lamaze wrote that the tester did not follow FEI rules for providing identification or COVID-19 protocols at the time, so Lamaze “ask[ed] him to leave or call the police.”
Lamaze and Danson have a history with fighting drug sanctions: In 1996 and 2000, Lamaze failed drug tests for cocaine that resulted in him being left off the Olympic teams for those Games. He was removed from the Canadian Olympic team and received a lifetime ban from the sport after the 2000 incident.
Danson, as his attorney, successfully argued to have the ban rescinded. Since then, Lamaze has represented Canada in three Olympics, winning individual gold and team silver in Hong Kong in 2008 and individual bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, as well as serving as chef d’equipe for the Canadian team at the 2022 Agria FEI World Jumping Championships (Denmark).
Lamaze withdrew from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics in May 2021, citing health considerations, and he rode in his last international competition two years ago, at the September 2021 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO5* (Alberta). Lamaze officially retired from show jumping competition in March 2022, citing his health. He was hired as the Canadian team’s chef d’equipe in February 2022 and left that role at the end of his one-year contract.
Danson, who asked to be removed from representing Lamaze in the Ontario case after the document forgeries were discovered, said Friday he will not continue to represent the embattled show jumper in the FEI case either.
He is the latest in a series of attorneys who have withdrawn from representing Lamaze in the multiple lawsuits he is facing. (The week after the Ontario judge ruled the Lamaze’s doctors’ notes were falsified, the attorney representing him in a U.S. case in which a surgery date mentioned in one of the forged notes was being used also withdrew.)
“What some people may not appreciate is there is an enormous, enormous trust factor that you build up over 30 years … This has been horrific for me on a human level,” said Danson, who described Lamaze as “like family” to him. “I’ve saved [him] a thousand times, and I end up in this position. I’m an officer of the court, and I take that really seriously. As officer of the court you can advocate as aggressively as you want, but all your representations to the court must be truthful and honest. I had no choice [but to stop representing Lamaze].
“He is very sick,” Danson continued. “This is not the Eric Lamaze I’ve known for 30 years. All I said to the judge [in the Ontario case] is, I have always had a genuine belief that what Eric was telling me was truthful.”
Lamaze furnished Danson with reportedly graphic photos showing his face disfigured by recent surgery, which Danson submitted to the Ontario court. Danson could not explain what the photos depicted, if not results of the laryngectomy Lamaze claimed to have received to remove metastasizing cancer.
“I don’t know what the explanation is,” he said. “If it’s not cancer, then it’s something else, and it’s a serious illness, and he needs help.”
Lamaze did not respond to a request for comment.