The United Arab Emirates has agreed to join initiatives to reduce the high incidence of doping in Middle Eastern endurance.

It comes after the UAE met its critics, the Swiss Equestrian Federation, at a round table at the FEI’s headquarters in Lausanne (24 July).

British Equestrian Federation (BEF) chairman Andrew Finding — who chaired the session — said a “full and frank discussion” about the “challenges” facing endurance had taken place.

Full details of the new initiatives will not emerge until the FEI general assembly in November, but are likely to include increased dope testing and pressure on officials to better apply the rules.

A strategic planning group will involve the FEI’s integrity unit, which is led by Lord Stevens, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The 22 delegates supported all proposed rule changes, which include increasing the horse rest period to 40 days between events of over 140 km and the elimination of an entire team if one member tests positive.

For the first time, separate concerns about equine fractures in endurance were acknowledged. The FEI is to launch a global injuries surveillance project “as soon as possible”.

Veterinary studies have linked fractures to the pace of desert rides, where average speeds of 27kph over 160km are the norm.

Swiss federation president Charles Trolliet, a vet, had rejected the earlier FEI responses to his allegations about abuses in the sport.

He told H&H: “We are satisfied the debate has reached a new level. We expect the discussions to be continued and immediately effective measures to be implemented.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (1 August 2013)