Australian event rider questions Olympic security in Hong Kong

  • The Australian equestrian team will take security cameras to the Olympic Games in Hong Kong this summer after the horse ridden by eventer Shane Rose tested positive to a banned substance during the test event last August.

    Shane and Statford Novalis finished third in the CCI** competition, but a sample taken by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) revealed the presence of pentobarbital. The drug is used for euthanising small animals and had never previously been detected in an FEI testing.

    Shane admitted responsibility but said he did not know how pentobarbital entered his horse.

    “The accidental doping occurred via feed contamination or foul play,” Shane told H&H. “I would never dope a horse.”

    In his evidence to the FEI tribunal last November, Shane admitted feeding electrolytes supplied by team-mate Megan Jones after the cross-country. Traces of pentobarbital were found in the electrolytes, and on the Australian team vet’s stethoscope.

    During the hearing, Shane criticised the poor security of the stables at the test event.

    “The traces in the electrolytes and on the stethoscope were minor,” said Shane. “I’m pretty confident he was deliberately doped in the stables, but you can’t say that without proof.

    “As a result, we’re going to take extra precautions for the Games — which includes taking our own security cameras.”

    British performance director Will Connell said he had no security concerns, but said the British team took CCTV cameras to the Athens Olympics.

    “Riders talk about stable security and doping all the time, but if someone is minded to dope a horse they would probably have access to the stables anyway,” he said. “It’s not something I lose sleep over. I think each stable in Hong Kong will have CCTV, but if not, we’ll take our own.”

    An FEI spokesman said: “The absence of security is not a valid excuse if a horse tests positive.”

    Shane Rose was disqualified from the test event, and forfeited medals, points and prize-money. He was suspended for a month and fined CHF2,000 (£962).

    Read William Fox-Pitt’s thoughts on the positive test on page 71 of Horse * Hound (6 March, ’08), where this news story was first published.

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