Dope tests aren’t just the preserve of the elite performers. Amateur riders must ensure they’re in the clear too, as David Rowlands explains


Positive blood tests have been a hot topic this year. Are you confident that a sample from your horse would return a negative result? Dope tests are carried out at British Eventing (BE) and FEI events, and commonly used equine medications are on the FEI Prohibited Substances List.

What can you do?

Even if you have one horse to event at grassroots level, you must do all you can to avoid a positive test. You might be called on to supply a sample of your horse’s urine or blood after competing, so it is good practice to do the following:

● Use separate feed and water buckets for each horse to reduce the chance of cross-contamination.

● If a horse in the yard is receiving medication, prepare its feed last and wear disposable gloves. Then wash your hands and the bucket.

● Tell your vet where you are competing, when and whether the event is governed by FEI or BE regulations.

● Only use feeds that are certified as free from prohibited substances, and from reputable companies. Make a note of batch numbers.

● Be cautious with supplements. Do not use homemade remedies.

● Never accept feed or supplements from other people.

Be informed

Be familiar with regulations and procedures. The FEI Clean Sport app is a database of equine prohibited substances. These are classified as either:

1. Banned substances, which have no legitimate use in the competition horse and/or have a high potential for abuse, for example, anabolic steroids or human antipsychotic medication; or
2. Controlled substances, which have therapeutic value and/or are commonly used in equine medicine. But, they may also affect performance, and/or be a welfare risk to
the horse, for example, phenylbutazone (bute).

There are key differences between the BE and FEI regulations in relation to Equine Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ETUEs):

Under FEI regulations, following therapeutic treatment, a Veterinary Form 1 must be presented for retrospective authorisation and to determine whether the horse can continue competing. This must be completed before leaving the venue and before the event has finished.

Maintain your medication logbook, in case of a tribunal, and check the FEI’s published detection times for common medications. But always seek veterinary clarification of withdrawal times. Horses must be clean at the time of competition.

At BE competitions, ETUEs cannot be granted before competing, only in retrospect. This means after a dope test has been carried out and only if — at the time of testing — you submitted a BEFAR medication form (available from completed by the vet that administered the medication. Within 10 days of the dope test you must apply for a full National Equine Therapeutic Exemption (NETUE). If in doubt, don’t compete.

David Rowlands, of Penbode Equine, Devon, is an FEI eventing veterinary delegate and the British junior/young rider dressage team vet.

This article was first published in Eventing magazine (December 2014)