Qatari endurance trainer Mohammed Ali Khalifa Al-Attiyah has been suspended from equestrian sport for two years after admitting to injecting two horses in his care with the banned substance human recombinant erythropoietin, more commonly know as EPO.
Horses Sur (formerly known as Mabrouk) and Centurion both tested positive for EPO at the CEI* in Doha, Qatar on 22 April 2016. Abdulla Mubarak Rashed Al Khaili and Mohd Butti Ghemran Al Qubaisi, both of the United Arab Emirates, were the horses’ riders and have been suspended for one year.
The trainer also received a fine of 3,500 Swiss francs (CHF (£2,800)) and has to contribute 1,500 CHF (£1,200) towards the legal costs. He will remain ineligible until 4 July 2018, which takes into account the period of his provisional suspension, which came into place on 5 July 2016.
In his statement to the FEI Tribunal, Mr. Al-Attiyah said: “It was my mistake to give to the horses an injection of 2ml of EPO, three days before the ride.
“I don’t have a lot of experience about medicines and specially the ‘Prohibited Substances’ because it was my first season as an official trainer.
“I am deeply sorry about this situation and I hope you understand that if I knew that my horses were going to be positive, I will have not done it. ”
The use of EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells and is used for the treatment of anaemia, cancer and heart failure in humans. As a banned substance, it has no official use in equines and should never be found in a horse’s body.
Because Mr Al-Attiyah admitted that he had administered the horses with EPO shortly before the competition, did not tell anyone that he had done so and actively denied giving the horses any medication when asked by the riders prior to the event, the riders were found to bear no significant fault and negligence for the rule violation. As a result their sanctions were reduced from two to one year, under a majority decision by the FEI Tribunal panel.
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The riders are both suspended from competition until 1 June 2017. In addition each were fined 2,000 CHF (£1,600) and have to contribute 1,000 CHF (£800) towards legal costs. Both the riders and their horses were disqualified from the competition.
All three individuals have 21 days to appeal the decisions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport from the date of notification (27 March 2017).