The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has confirmed that seven international competition horses have been found to have a prohibited substance in their systems in recent months. These are in addition to the four cases in Athens. A number of these cases have related to low concentrations of sedatives.
H&H dressage columnist Pammy Hutton first raised questions about such unethical practices in September 2003, and the subject was further investigated by Sue Mott in The Daily Telegraph.
Now the FEI admits it has seen evidence that seems to support these claims: “These substances [sedatives] are being used in low dosages to improve the manageability of ‘hot’ horses and are therefore regarded as serious attempts to influence the performance of the horse by medication.”
It continues: “Apparently many riders, trainers or vets were under the impression that horses treated in this way wouldn’t test positive. This is not the case.”
In most cases the drugs have been found at show jumping competitions.
Of the positive tests from the medallists in Athens, only Waterford Crystal tested positive for a sedative, which his rider Cian O’Connor says must have lingered in the horse’s system after being administered at an earlier hydrotherapy session.