More random equine dope tests are to be introduced this year, as well as elective testing and leg-swabbing trials, as part of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) tougher stance on doping in equestrian competition.

In May 2005, the FEI unveiled new anti-doping and medication control rules and set up working groups to move the plans forward. Last week, the medication advisory group (MAG) and veterinary committees met to report on progress.

“There will be an increase in testing during 2006 — which may mean up to 30% more tests at some events,” said Dr Andrew Higgins, MAG chair and British vet.

A leg-swabbing kit is to be trialled, to try to combat hypersensitisation (applying substances to horses’ legs to increase their sensitivity).

“Riders have said they want something done about hypersensitisation abuses for a long time,” said Dr Higgins. “But the range of substances used to sensitise a horse’s skin is so huge that this is a great challenge for us.

“There are some horror stories of substances that are said to have been applied or injected beneath the skin, including oven cleaner, mercury blisters, scalding water and so on.

“Any abuses of this nature cannot and will not be tolerated, and we will do all we can to fight the abusers.”

Studies currently underway include temperature testing of legs, and thermographic imaging research.

  • Read more about the FEI’s plans in today’s Horse & Hound (9 February, ’06)
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