Urgent calls for action to reduce contamination risks at shows

  • Urgent calls have been made to reduce contamination risk at shows and improve horse welfare by introducing stricter rules.

    The FEI has promised “constructive discussion” after the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) asked for “urgent intervention”.

    The proposed measures include certificates to prove disinfection of stables, dogs to be banned from stabling zones, a reduction in the number of people allowed in the stabling zone and no unauthorised visits.

    The IJRC also asked for straw, hay and feed sold by organising committees to have a certificate declaring them “free of doping substances” and assuming responsibility on organisers’ part in failed dope tests caused by contamination.

    IJRC director Eleonora Ottaviani told H&H the call came after a number of positive dope tests caused by contamination were recently recorded by the FEI.

    “The idea is strong 
co-operation between the IJRC and the FEI vet department,” she said. “The IJRC doesn’t intend to protect anyone who wants to cheat, but to avoid contamination. It is nearly impossible to check your horse 24 hours a day.

    “When a contamination procedure is started, the image of the rider is destroyed and rebuilding this is very difficult.”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H the IJRC’s points are “being addressed”, adding that the FEI has built in measures to protect riders to its anti-doping programme, including screening limits and elective testing.

    “We are constantly working on further developing education and clean sport initiatives,” he said.

    “Following discussions at the FEI general assembly (16-19 November), the FEI has proposed to meet the IJRC in early 2020 to continue constructive discussion for the way forward to protect horse welfare and reduce contamination risks.”

    Showjumper Lisa Williams, whose ride Campbell was banned after testing positive for synephrine (news, 24 October), told H&H being exposed to contamination is “devastating”.

    “I understand why the IJRC has requested the measures because riders are at risk. Most contaminants are natural, such as synephrine, which grows in our grass in South Africa. My horse tested positive for eating food.

    “At the end of the ban, there is no black mark against Campbell’s name or mine, but there is a stigma attached to testing positive. It had an emotional impact because I have been an ambassador for my country and always prided myself on being a clean-sport person.”

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