Drug-testing rules are branded as ‘onerous’ by riders

  • Riders are branding changes to the world anti-doping code for out-of-competition drug-testing as “onerous and over-complicated”.

    Since 2006, elite athletes have been required to file “whereabouts” information with their respective country’s governing body — UK Sport in Britain — detailing where they would be for one hour a day, five days a week, through the year.

    But at the start of this year, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) made crucial changes to requirements of elite athletes (see box below).

    The rules affect only a handful of riders in the UK. But they have met with widespread opposition across the world.

    Sixty-five Belgian athletes have filed a court challenge claiming the new rules are an invasion of privacy, and Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal said the rules were “intolerable”.

    But riders are faced with an altogether different problem.

    British Equestrian Federation (BEF) World Class performance director Will Connell said the BEF is trying to negotiate with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to ensure riders are affected as little possible.

    “Riders can’t plan in detail three months in advance in the way some athletes can,” he said.

    Mr Connell acknowledged the requirements are a “big imposition” on riders, but said it was crucial that equestrianism tows the line in order to remain an Olympic sport.

    Each elite rider is required to declare his or her whereabouts over a three-month period on an FEI database. Should their plans change, the rider must inform the FEI via text or phone.

    For this article in full, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (26 February, ’09)

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