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Qatar is being targeted by dope testers while the scandal-hit United Arab Emirates (UAE) operates the lowest testing levels in the Middle East, according to the FEI’s newly expanded listings.

The FEI’s negative test archive is the public’s only reference of sampled horses.

However, until 1 January this year, only European event results were published — negatives from major championships such as the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Kentucky, USA, remained a secret.

Now, publication has gone worldwide.

Figures show that in the first 10 endurance rides staged in FEI Group 7 (Middle East) this year, the UAE tested just 4.57% (26) of the 569 starters. Yet at rides in Qatar on 9 and 30 January respectively, 27% (eight horses out of 29) and 9.9% (six of 66) were tested.

Levels in Saudi Arabia are also slightly above the regional average of 6.7% so far. Former FEI head vet Graeme Cooke told the 2013 FEI General Assembly that Middle Eastern testing levels had been increased to 7% of all starters in the wake of concerns.

Since then, the FEI has followed the preference of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for targeted and intelligence-led testing over a set minimum percentage.

Qatar is now under scrutiny following a significant spike in positive tests last winter.

The five-star Al Shaqab jumping show in Doha (2-6 March) was also targeted.

“The FEI’s test distribution plan is based partly on risk assessment, including risk factors such as high prize money where rule breaches are most likely to occur, and high levels of positives in some regions or disciplines,” said an FEI spokesman.

“WADA has stated that a very wide testing pool is ineffective. Being present at more events is more important than testing a huge number of horses, as the presence of testing veterinarians acts as a deterrent.”

Last year the UAE was suspended for horse welfare violations.

The FEI declined to comment on figures from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Dubai International Endurance City in the UAE which, at its 120km ride on 21 January, tested just four of 167 horses — 2.3%.

In 2013, H&H led calls for more transparency after revealing that the Maktoum-run Euston Park endurance venue in Suffolk was attended by sampling vets just 11 times in its 27 FEI fixtures to date.

From 2005 to 2013, Maktoum-owned stables accounted for a staggering 12.5% of all positive tests across all horse sports.

Of the 23 people worldwide currently suspended for doping offences, eight are in showjumping, one in dressage and 14 in endurance, of whom eight are from the Middle East. Five of the seven lesser doping offences punishable by automatic fine in the past three months involved Middle East endurance.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 March 2016