Rats and human urine to blame in recent positive dope tests

  • Horse feed contaminated by rats – and hay contaminated by a groom urinating in a stall – have been found to be responsible after horses tested positive for banned substances in two separate recent cases.

    Rebekah Italiano’s ride Kenlock Cadillac tested positive for banned substance warfarin, a blood thinner also commonly found in rat poison. The positive sample was taken when the pair were competing at the CCI4*-S at Ballarat Horse Trials in Australia in May 2023.

    The FEI Tribunal notes that warfarin may be used in the treatment of navicular disease and deep vein thrombosis, and is classed as a banned substance, which means it is prohibited both in and out of competition.

    Ms Italiano opted to have the B sample tested, which also came back positive.

    The Tribunal documents state that Ms Italiano put forward “extensive submissions” following her own investigation into where the substance could have come from. The FEI was satisfied that “on a balance of probabilities” the source was “contamination of the horse feed by rats”.

    The FEI considered that she had shown she bore “no significant fault or negligence”, so the sanctions should be at the lower end of the range.

    She was disqualified from the competition, given a two-month suspension, instead of the otherwise applicable stretch of two years, and fined CHF 3,000 (£2,635). The two-month suspension was also backdated, as she had already served a four-month provisional suspension.

    In a separate case at a CCI4*-S in Quillota, Chile, a winning combination are set to be stripped of their victory after the horse tested positive for a banned substance owing to a groom urinating in a stable.

    Chaman Ginn, the ride of Argentina’s Juan Benitez Gallardo, tested positive for O-Desmethylvenlafaxine at the event they won on 10 December 2023 after, it is believed, he ate contaminated hay.

    The FEI Tribunal states that the drug is a metabolite of Venlafaxine, a serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitor used as an anti-depressant.

    The FEI was satisfied that Mr Benitez Gallardo bore no fault or negligence. His provisional suspension was lifted with immediate effect on the date of the hearing (7 March), he has not been fined, and the horse’s two-month suspension was completed on 14 March.

    Athough the results from the event are still showing the pair as winners on the FEI database, the FEI Tribunal notes state that they are disqualified.

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