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The ongoing case surrounding Waterford Crystal’s positive test for a prohibited substance at the Athens Olympics finally looks set to come to a conclusion next month, following the announcement that the FEI judicial committee hearing will take place in Zurich, Switzerland on Sunday 27 March (Easter Sunday).

This Olympic doping saga has been surrounded by controversy since part of the horse’s B urine sample went missing, following the FEI’s initial announcement that the horse had tested positive for a banned substance. The missing sample forced the second set of tests to be undertaken on a blood sample instead, which confirmed that miniscule amounts of Fluphenazine and Zuclophenthixol were present in the horse when he competed in Athens.

Since the second sample confirmed the presence of the prohibited substances, the case has dragged on and on. Initially the FEI granted O’Connor two extensions to the date by which he had to send in his submission. The rider’s submission was finally received by the FEI in time for the 12 January deadline, but it then took a further five weeks before a date for the hearing was finally agreed.

The FEI blames the delay in setting the date mainly on “the non-availability of O’ Connor’s witnesses and/or counsel at a number of earlier dates proposed by the Judicial Committee”.

Cian O’Connor, who has maintained his innocence throughout, told the Irish Independant: “I’m really looking forward to resolving the matter so that the sport as a whole can get back to normal, but [Easter Sunday] seems like a strange day to hold the hearing.”

In a further blow to Irish show jumping, Jessica Kurten’s top mare Libertina has tested positive to traces of the banned substances caffeine and theophylline while competing in Calgary last year.

Kurten has been fined 250 CHF by the FEI but is refusing to pay as she claims the positive test was due to feed that she was forced to use while at the show.

In a statement she said: “At this show, I was forced by US and Canadian regulations to use feed supplied at the show and I was prohibited from bringing my own feedstuff into Canada. I have declined to co-operate [with the fine] because I cannot be held responsible for the contents of the feed supplied at the show in Calgary as I was not in a position to have it analysed or checked.”

The President of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland, Avril Doyle MEP, responded to Kurten’s decision by saying: ”We have noted carefully the contents of Jessica Kurten’s statement, and await with interest the response of the FEI to this Grade Five (low potential to affect performance) infringement. It is our understanding that Ms. Kurten has requested the testing of the ‘B’ sample taken from her horse at Calgary, and we also look forward to learning the outcome of this test.”