Steve Guerdat free to compete after suspension lifted

  • Olympic champion Steve Guerdat is free to compete again after a provisional suspension was lifted by the FEI.

    The Swiss rider had a preliminary hearing with the FEI last week (23 July) following the news that two of his horses tested positive for banned substances (21 July).

    And today (Monday 27 July) the FEI announced the suspension had been removed.

    During the hearing, Steve Guerdat, pleaded that food contamination had caused the positive test.

    Samples were taken at the CSIO5* at La Baule in France on 17 May from his London 2012 gold medal-winning partner Nino Des Buissonnets, on the day the 14-year-old gelding won the grand prix.

    The tests returned positive for codeine and oripavine — banned substances — and morphine, a controlled substance.

    At the same show but a day earlier (16 May), samples were taken from Steve’s other ride, Nasa, after the 14-year-old grey mare finished third in the La Baule Derby.

    These tests were positive for codeine and morphine. The horse’s sample also showed traces of oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive for the substance.

    However, the two horses remain provisionally suspended for two months.

    Samples taken at the CSIOY young riders in Deauville, France, on 8 May from the horse Charivari KG ridden by Alessandra Bichsel, also returned positive for codeine and oripavine, and morphine. Her suspension was also lifted today (27 July) but the one on her horse remains.

    “The FEI Tribunal’s decision is mainly based on the scientific evidence presented by the persons responsible (the athletes) which suggests the likelihood of food contamination,” read a statement from the FEI.

    “While the FEI Tribunal lifted the provisional suspensions on the two riders, requests for the lifting of the provisional suspension on the three horses were denied.

    “The Tribunal found that irrespective of the source of the prohibited substances, banned substances had been found in the system of the horses and it is the FEI’s established policy to impose a provisional suspension period of two months in such cases.

    “Today’s decisions purely ruled on the lifting of the provisional suspensions. Decisions on the merits of the cases will be made at a later stage.”

    Steve and Nino De Buissonnets have been shortlisted for the Swiss team for the European Showjumping Championships next month.

    This means the rider is once again eligible to compete at the Championships, but currently the horse is not.

    “The owners of the horses have the right to request a second preliminary hearing, provided there is new evidence to support a further request to lift the provisional suspension on the horses,” an FEI spokesman told H&H.

    “This would need to happen before 10 August when the definite entries for the European Showjumping Championships at Aachen close.

    “For the time being the horses are suspended until 19 September.”

    Steve said he is “relieved and happy” about the decision.

    A statement from the rider read: “At the same time, however, he regrets that due to the current FEI rules applicable the provisional suspension against his two horses is maintained.

    “Guerdat and his team will put every effort in the further ongoing process of the FEI investigation to provide as soon as possible the evidence for the mentioned food contamination as the cause of the positive findings, in order to suggest the lifting of the suspensions also for the horses before the FEI Tribunal.”

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