“No drugs problem” says Fox-Pitt

  • Drugs are currently a fashionable sporting topic, following incidents in athletics, tennis and racing. Last month, it was eventing’s turn, with Sue Mott’s “exposé” in the Daily Telegraph.

    Perhaps Pammy Hutton’s dressage column in H&H last October, in which she aired her unfounded theories about drug abuse in eventing, was the catalyst for Sue Mott’s polemic.

    Heidi Antikatzides appeared to be the sole point of endorsement, although Brynley Powell’s comparison of eventing with athletics perhaps made the article more credible.

    Heidi has every right to air her concerns to the FEI, but to broadcast them so publicly was destructive to a sport with which she is closely involved and for which she therefore has responsibility.

    Yogi Breisner was interviewed, but his comments, which I suspect differed from Heidi’s, were obviously not “interesting” enough to publish!

    British Eventing finds itself in a tricky position: admitting that dope testing has been increased makes it look as though there is a problem, but a flat denial that there is concern could be seen to be taking the ostrich approach.

    The FEI has been keeping abreast of “developments” in doping and has, rightly, stepped up random testing, including after dressage. Each year, there are no more than one or two positive tests, and they tend to be for medication remaining in the horse’s system rather than for performance-enhancing drugs.

    While there will always be people out to beat the system in a competitive sport, I do not believe it is the issue Pammy Hutton or Sue Mott suggest. There is no evidence that it is a growing problem that influences results.

  • Read William Fox-Pitt’s thoughts on other issues currently facing the eventing world in the current issue of Horse & Hound (1 April 2004)

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