Bahrain has been stripped of its world endurance team gold medal after one of its horses tested positive for an anabolic steroid at the re-scheduled championships in Butheeb, UAE, (20–26 February).
Hera Durances, ridden by Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed, was found to have the banned substance stanozolol and its metabolite 16-beta-hydroxystanozolo inl her system. These are anabolic steroids used to improve performance by promoting muscular development.
FEI anti-doping rules state that banned substances have “no legitimate use in the competition horse and/or have a high potential for abuse” and “are not permitted for use in the competition horse at any time”.
The horse was disqualified, so the Bahraini team no longer had three counting scores. This means the world team title has been reallocated to France, Portugal takes team silver and Italy bronze.
“While it is never optimal to have medals redistributed following an event due to medication control and anti-doping-related offences, we view this as confirmation that the systems we have in place are thorough and effective”, said FEI legal director Mikael Rentsch.
“The FEI’s clean sport programme has extensive processes to ensure we not only educate the community, but also have the tools to follow up and uphold the rules at play in order to guarantee a level playing field, and safeguard the welfare of our human and equine athletes.”
The rider, Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed, and trainer, Muhammad Abbas Khalid, both “explicitly admitted” the rule violation, according to their FEI Tribunal consent awards. Their admissions meant that their bans were both reduced by six months.
This means both were given an 18-month period of ineligibility (suspension), instead of two years. They were each fined CHF5,000 (£4,435) and ordered to pay CHF1,000 for the B-sample testing.
The horse, Hera Durances, was provisionally suspended for two months from 20 March, which the 11-year-old mare has now served and is back competing, finishing second at a ride this month with another rider.
H&H has approached the Bahraini and French federations for comment.
A statement confirming the new result on the French federation website said: “France, which had won gold at the World Equestrian Games in 1994, 2002 and 2006 and finished 2nd in 2010 and 2014, confirms its position as the leading nation in the discipline and has once again demonstrated its irreproachable team spirit, which has allowed to win this new world title.”
A spokesman for campaign group Clean Endurance told H&H it “finds it deeply regrettable that yet again endurance is sullied by a doping case at a major championship”.
“Although we are satisfied with the FEI’s due process which led to the Bahrain team gold medal being rescinded, we very much regret that team France did not get the highest podium on the day,” said the spokesman.
“Their team-based ‘to finish is to win’ strategy, as well as their horsemanship, comforted many endurance stakeholders in their belief that our sport could still have a future.”
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