British eventer fined after false vaccination records found

  • Eventer Matthew Wright has been found guilty of two equine passport falsifications relating to vaccinations and fined CHF1,500 (£1,133) by an FEI tribunal.

    The decision, published on 11 May, related to an incident at Osberton International Horse Trials on 28 Sept – 2 Oct 2016, where Matthew had two horses entered, The Artist Almost Famous and MHS Twenty Twenty.

    Anomalies were spotted in the vaccination records of both of his entries by the event’s veterinary delegate Alison (Ali) Butler. She noticed that the passport of MHS Twenty Twenty used the stamp of veterinary practice Hall and Lawrence, which was no longer in existence in that name.

    There was no vaccination batch number noted, and the name of the vet was crossed out.

    The entry was also signed “Ali Butler” — the same name as the veterinary delegate — though she confirmed it was not her signature.

    The Artist Almost Famous’ passport was described as in a “very poor state” and the vaccination also had no batch number or veterinary stamp.

    While Matthew was later able to provide a letter and a printout of clinical records to confirm that MHS Twenty Twenty had been vaccinated, he was not able to provide records for The Artist Almost Famous, the FEI Tribunal report stated.

    According to the report, Matthew “admitted at the time of the event to have written the details in the passports in a meeting with Alison Butler (veterinary delegate), Howard Newitt (assistant veterinary delegate) and Simon Bere (technical delegate)”, but later changed his explanation.

    In a submission to the FEI on 13 June 2017, Matthew — who withdrew his horses from the event — claimed that his groom Lukasz Orywal had been responsible for the falsification.

    The FEI did not consider this to be a valid defence, however, as the rider is considered the person responsible (PR) for their horses at all times.

    “The PR is responsible for the documentation of his horses and also for his support personnel and it is the PR’s responsibility to provide the correct documentation for the horses he competes,” the report explained.

    “This case was a bit particular since firstly, Matthew admitted that he falsified the passports in a meeting with the FEI officials. After the notification of alleged falsification of the passports, he came back with explanations that the falsifications actually were made by his groom Lukasz Orywal.

    “There are two different versions of how it came about. This makes it difficult to provide strong evidence to impose a sanction. Mainly since the groom is not registered with the FEI and it would therefore be difficult to impose a sanction on the groom.”

    Continued below…

    The tribunal, which was presided over by one-man panel Dr Armand Leone, concluded that there were “still two falsifications of passports regardless of who did it,” and that the responsibility lay with the rider.

    The minimum sanction that can be applied under FEI rules is a CHF1,000 fine. Having agreed that there were two falsifications, Matthew accepted a fine of CHF1,500.

    Matthew declined to comment for this news story, but said he would comment in his blog on the H&H website in due course.

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