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The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is to establish a task force to review the organisation’s current regulations on medication control and to re-examine its policies designed to prevent riders from using banned substances.

Following the four positive dope tests on top horses at the Olympic Games, the FEI has made it clear that it intends to attack the problem head-on in an attempt to stamp out the use of prohibited substances in the sport.

FEI President, the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón says: “The FEI is particularly disturbed about the current situation, as it reflects so badly on equestrian sport. The FEI has continually endeavoured to maintain a clean sport.”

In an FEI bureau meeting earlier this week, concerns about the welfare of the competition horses and the need to maintain fair play were discussed. The federation is particularly keen to put in place new rules that will allow it to penalise riders more quickly following any misuse of medication. Currently the process of investigating alleged doping cases takes many months to complete due to complicated testing and legal procedures.

The task force will be made up from representatives of the national federations with veterinary, legal affairs and communications specialists working as advisors.

BEF executive officer, Helen Huggett told HHO: “We very much welcome the establishment of the new task force. The BEF has been pressing for something of this nature to be put in place. It is vital that the sport is returned to a position where everyone is confident in the dope testing and judicial procedures.”

The BEF says it is keen to play an active role in the new task force. It successfully put in place a number of joint anti-doping initiatives with the British Olympic Association and UK Sport in the run up to the Athens Olympic Games.

“The BEF made a concerted effort to ensure all riders and their connections were educated and tested prior to the Games, which was a huge success,” says Huggett. “Doping issues aren’t helpful in any sport and we need to make sure the equestrian sport is seen to be able to regulate itself.”

Meanwhile, the FEI’s medication sub-committee has now officially confirmed that the B-samples for Waterford Crystal, Goldfever and Ringwood Cockatoo have shown the presence of a banned substance. The FEI says it is looking for a quick resolution to these cases, within the current rules.