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The equestrian community has pledged its support for clean sport by backing UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) week-long campaign.

UKAD’s Clean Sport Week runs from 21 to 27 May, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of clean sport and what it actually entails.

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is among the bodies supporting the campaign.

“It is vital that everyone participating within equestrian sport fully understands the importance of clean sport and the rules they must adhere to, at both national and international level,” said newly appointed chief executive Nick Fellows.

“[These rules apply to] both human and equine athletes — as well as ensuring the highest standards of horse welfare.”

Mr Fellows said the BEF will promote informative articles online throughout the week.

“[These will] highlight where people can find out more information about clean sport, and how riders, owners and teams, can check prohibited substance and controlled medication lists, ensuring the spotlight is placed on the importance of clean sport across both human and equine athletes,” he added.

The British Grooms Association (BGA) is urging grooms and riders to familiarise themselves with the rules and to take part in its online “Groom Clean” course — open to both members and non-members.

“With increased focus on keeping clean in equestrian sport we are urging all competitors to put their team through Groom Clean to help protect their careers,” said BGA chief executive Lucy Katan.

“The e-learning course will give you a good understanding of how to avoid an anti-doping rule violation, something every competition groom and rider should know.”

Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester’s groom Alan Davies said the course is “an invaluable tool”.

“Clean sport is a very serious topic so it is very important that grooms have access to this information,” said Alan.

“We have to be aware of so many regulations and also of how our horses can be affected in many different situations.”

Equestrian products and supplement manufacturer NAF has strict protocols in place to ensure its products comply with clean sport rules.

“Clean sport encompasses the equine anti-doping and controlled medication rules, which deal with the doping of horses and the use of inappropriate medication in competition,” explained a NAF spokesman.

“Anyone who is a member of an equestrian sporting discipline and is eligible [to take part] can be subjected to testing. This includes equestrian sports and [BEF] member bodies such as the British Riding Clubs.”

Recycling debate

Recent discussion on plastic packaging has sparked debate on whether refills could comply with the stringent processes that go into preventing accidental contamination.

But NAF has concerns about potential contamination and traceability problems that could theoretically arise.

“NAF are very conscious of environmental concerns and is working hard behind the scenes to ensure our packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible,” said the spokesman.

“We have trials ongoing currently with recyclable bags, but in the meantime we believe our pots and bottles, which are widely recyclable by all roadside collections, are the best option.

“We also endeavour to provide larger sizes for most of our products, as these reduce overall packaging and give the customer the option of upcycling them – they make great tack boxes for the lorry, or slosh buckets after work.

“Once opened we lose control of the contents, and it will always be possible for contamination to occur, and this is something that we couldn’t risk with our products.

“We do believe that the equine industry needs to rise to the plastic challenge, and we will continue to explore new innovative ways to offer the best quality products for owners and their horses, that won’t cost us all the earth.”

11 tips and facts about anti-doping…

  • Testing of horses and riders can take place, at both national and international competitions
  • The rider is regarded as the “responsible person”, for their horse or pony, with the exception of children aged under 18, although other members of the support team — such as the horse’s owner — may also be held liable
  • Use different coloured feed bowls to avoid the wrong feeds being given to the wrong horse
  • Use different mixing spoons when controlled medication is administered to avoid contamination
  • Ensure tea and coffee-making facilities are not in the feed room
  • Be aware when drinking soft drinks around your horse, or eating snacks such as biscuits or chocolate bars as caffeine is a common positive test result
  • Buy feeds from trusted companies which have full traceability of raw ingredients — look out for Universal Feed Assurance Scheme accredited manufacturers and the British Equestrian Trade Association’s BETA NOPS logo
  • Speak to your vet about withdrawal and detection times for controlled medications
  • Familiarise yourself with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances for humans and make sure you discuss any potential issues or therapeutic use exemptions with your doctor and the BEF
  • Record batch numbers and feeds
  • Do not keep first aid and grooming kits in the feed room

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

In this week’s edition, out on 24 May, don’t miss our “cob special”, including how to find the perfect cob, meet champion cob Our Cashel Blue and more.