LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.
The International Canoe Federation ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event's Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in Vincent Lapointe's doping sample.
"It's pretty incredible," Vincent Lapointe's lawyer, Adam Klevinas, said at a news conference Monday in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. "It took months to get results, and then at the end, we got the idea to analyze the hair of her ex and to test a product he finally admitted to taking."
The key evidence came back from a laboratory ahead of the tribunal hearing in December called by the governing body of canoeing in Switzerland.
"The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe's evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination," the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.
The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet's 2009 acquittal in the "cocaine kiss" case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet's defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.
Vincent Lapointe, 27, was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 world championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics.
"You can't even imagine how relieved I am," Vincent Lapointe said at the news conference. "It feels good to put an end to this journey and just be able to concentrate on what I love and get back on the water to prepare for the [Olympics]."
Vincent Lapointe can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women's canoe sprint events, with May options at races in Brazil and Germany.
Monday's ruling can be challenged at CAS by the World Anti-Doping Agency if it is not satisfied with the full ruling. Gasquet's case was brought to sport's highest court by a WADA appeal seeking a longer ban.