Saudi Arabia’s hopes of an Olympic showjumping medal were dashed today when the FEI Tribunal imposed eight month supensions on two of the country’s top riders.

Khaled Al Eid and Abdullah Al Sharbatly had horses test positive for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Phenylbutazone and Oxyphenbutazone, a metabolite of Phenylbutazone.

Khaled Al Eid’s ride Vanhoeve was tested at the Riyadh CSI3*-W in Saudi Arabia (30 Nov-3 Dec 2011), while Abdullah Al Sharbatly’s Lobster 43 tested positive at the CSI3*-W at Al Ain in the UAE (9-11 Feb 2012).

Both of the substances are described as ‘controlled medication’ by the FEI, which means they are prohibited in competition but are permitted for treatment use outside competition.

A positive test for a ‘controlled medication’ substance in competition can result in the rider, who is considered the ‘person responsible’ under FEI rules, receiving either a warning or a suspension of up to two years from competition.

In addition to their eight-month suspensions, which have been backdated to 24 February for Khaled Al Eid and 10 February for Abdullah Al Sharbatly (the dates at which the riders accepted a voluntary provisional suspension from competition), both riders have been fined CHF 1,000 and have to pay costs of CHF 3,000.

A spokesman for Saudi Equestrian said: “Saudi Equestrian is deeply disappointed with the findings of the FEI Tribunal and will be appealing the decision through the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne immediately.

“We would like to categorically state that neither phenylbutazone nor oxyphenbutazone, commonly known as bute, have ever been prescribed by the Saudi Equestrian team vet.

“Saudi Equestrian is a strong advocate of the FEI’s Clean Sport campaign and the welfare of the horse is central to the entire team’s ethos.”