The British Equestrian Federation will hold two anti-doping seminars in March to help competitors understand and abide by the latest rules governing prohibited substances for horses and riders.
Since the World Anti Doping Code was adopted by all major sport federations and eighty governments in March 2003, strict rules govern which substances may or may not be taken before a competition in any sport.
“The BEF has adopted the WADA code to retain its Olympic status and to show everyone we play fair,” says Sophie George, assistant to World Class Performance Director Will Connell. “The code is included in our rules, so all our competitors compete under it and it is important to understand what it entails.”
The WADA code chiefly covers riders, while the FEI regulates doping and medication control for their mounts. In both cases, ignorance of the rules is no excuse for failing a doping test, which will lead to disciplinary procedures and may cause horse and rider to be banned from future competitions.
“The seminars will give [riders] an opportunity to ask questions on both anti-doping and testing. People need to think about this automatically before going to a competition or when going to the doctor. It needs to become second nature,” says George. The briefings will be held by BEF’s executive office, Helen Huggett, director of equine sports science and medicine, John McEwan and a representative of UK Sport’s anti-doping office.
The speakers will detail which substances are banned, and will explain the procedure that competitors have to follow under WADA and under FEI rules if they need to take a drug which falls in the prohibited list.
“Some asthma drugs, for example, are allowed under WADA, but require a therapy exemption which needs to be certified,” explains George.
Huggett and McEwan will clarify how the doping test takes place and the procedure it follows. Identified riders will also be told how out of competition testing works.
“The FEI has put together a list of the top 40 show jumpers, the top 30 dressage riders and the top 30 eventers in the world, who will all be subject to out of competition testing. Not all of them will be British, but we need to make clear [to those who are] that they can be called on at any time to be tested,” explains George.
The seminars are mainly geared towards international competitors, but “anyone is welcome to come along – the more the better,” says George.
To make it easier for people to attend, the BEF have chosen to hold a briefing in the north of England, which will take place at Sheffield’s EIS facility on 8 March at 2pm, and one in the South, which will be held at The Oxford Centre in Oxford on 15 March at 2pm.
Meanwhile, the FEI’s anti-doping taskforce held their second meeting a week ago in Paris, where they looked at possible ways to speed up the judicial process in doping cases and discussed “the possibilities of new definitions of doping and medication control.”
One of the taskforce’s main targets is to refine the federation’s rule on doping and clarify the difference between legitimate use of medication to secure a horse’s welfare and doping to enhance performance.
This somewhat nebulous borderline came under the spotlight last year when a spate of high-profile cases proved that it can be tricky to give horses any veterinary treatment they may require without infringing the anti-doping regulation. This ultimately resulted in the FEI’s decision to disqualify Ludger Beerbaum and Goldfever 3 from the Olympics. Earlier this week, the German rider lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sports against that decision.