Paralympic skier suspended for marijuana use 

Kimberly Joines sidelined for nine months following positive test in January

By Andrew Mitchell

Edmonton’s Kimberly Joines has no intention of staying on the sidelines after she’s done serving a nine-month suspension for testing positive for marijuana use.

The International Paralympic Committee, which oversees the alpine World Cup circuit for para-alpine athletes, issued the ban Thursday, May 10, following Joines’s positive test at an IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup race in Aspen on Jan. 17. Nine months is the maximum penalty for a first-time offence, which Joines says stemmed from a misunderstanding.

Joines had applied to Health Canada to be allowed to use medicinal marijuana, which she says she used as a painkiller because it had fewer negative effects than prescription medications. At the time she applied to Health Canada she was told that the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports would allow the use of medicinal marijuana, not realizing that the IPC Anti-Doping Code, which uses the same list as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — has no similar exemption.

Joines suffered a spine injury while snowboarding in 2000, and as a paraplegic lost no time getting back on the slopes despite some ongoing pain and discomfort. As a member of the national team, she has also suffered several crashes in training and competition, and was seriously injured when she fell off a chairlift in her sitski in 2005, cracking ribs and damaging her shoulder. She also broke her femur in training that year.

While Joines plans to be back in October — her nine-month suspension goes back to her initial positive test in January — the incident caused some difficulty for the 26 year old. For one thing, she lost her Sport Canada funding of $1,500 a month that she relied on. She will need to re-qualify next year on the World Cup circuit to have that funding reinstated.

That should be relatively easy for Joines, who won the sit-ski category in her first race last season by about four seconds. However, she has not yet received word as to whether she will be allowed to train with the team while serving her suspension.

Alpine Canada has been relatively quiet about the incident. According to spokesperson Kyle Marr, no other athletes have tested positive or are being investigated for marijuana use. The official word on the incident is “no comment,” although Marr referred reporters to the statements that Alpine Canada president Ken Read made to the national media last week — namely that Joines was also sanctioned by Alpine Canada, but would be welcomed back to the team once her suspension was over.

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