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The FEI has confirmed that Major Sweep, Rodney Powell’s ride at the Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials last September, tested positive in a routine drug test at the event.

Peter Durrant, British Eventing chairman, confirmed that traces of betamethasone and phenylbutazone were found in a sample taken by the FEI.

Rodney, who has been long-listed for the Athens Olympics, was aware that betamethasone (an anti-inflammatory steroid that can be injected into joints) had been administered, but says that it was done so according to FEI guidelines. The presence of bute remains a mystery.

The judicial committee of the FEI will make its decision on the case March, based on written evidence and testimonies. Rodney has also requested that an oral hearing takes place and this is currently under discussion with the FEI.

After the judicial committee has informed the British rider of its final decision, Rodney will have 30 days in which to accept the decision or lodge an appeal.

This case follows two high profile cases on which the FEI delivered its verdict last year. Ulla Salzgeber, whose top dressage horse, Rusty, tested positive for A-list substance testosterone propionate in March, was stripped of her world cup title and fined 2,500 Swiss Francs.

Abbervail Dream, top ride of Britain’s leading lady show jumper, Di Lampard, tested positive for two banned substances at the Rome leg of the Samsung Super League Nations Cup and was subsequently disqualified.

Both riders insisted that they knew nothing about the presence of the substances.

The FEI and British Eventing are currently refusing to release any further details about this latest case, or comment on the circumstances surrounding it, before the conclusion of the procedure.

If Rodney is found guilty by the judicial committee, the FEI may have a tough time deciding what punishment to mete out, especially since Major Sweep was not in the money at Burghley, so disqualification would be of little significance.