Two event riders blame positive drugs tests on ‘prescribed medication’ *Updated*

  • Two of the three US event riders who tested positive for banned stimulants have released statements saying their results were down to medication recently prescribed by their doctors.

    The three riders — Hannah Sue Burnett, Jennie Brannigan and Alyssa Phillips — were all tested at the Ocala Jockey Club International in Florida (16-20 November). It was announced yesterday (Friday 22 December) by the FEI that all three recorded a positive result for the prohibited substance amfetamine, with Alyssa also testing positive for canrenone and Jennie for methylphenidate and ritalinic acid.

    Amfetamine and methylphenidate are listed in the stimulants category of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2017 prohibited list, as is phenethylamine and its derivatives, which include ritalinic acid. Canrenone is included in the diuretics and masking agents category.

    Jennie Brannigan has issued a statement saying: “My recent positive test, while devastating news to me, was the result of a medication that had been recently prescribed to me by my doctor. My use of this prescribed medication had absolutely nothing to do with trying to enhance my sport performance, and I hope that once my explanation is provided to the FEI, I will be able to return to that sport I love as soon as possible. I greatly appreciate everyone’s support during this time.”

    Alyssa Phillips’ statement said: “I wanted it known that my doctor prescribed both banned substances to me for legitimate medical conditions and that I openly declared both substances to the doping control officer as part of the testing process. I was not trying to enhance my performance through the use of either substance and my case is certainly not one involving the intentional use of a banned substance. I will apply to the FEI for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption for these two prescribed medicines. If granted, I will no longer be charged with a positive test.”

    These cases are likely to centre around the use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE), which athletes can apply for if they need to use a prohibited substance to manage an illness or condition. When asked by H&H, a spokesperson for Jennie’s PR firm said at this time she was “not able to confirm or deny” on Jennie’s behalf whether the rider held a TUE for the medication.

    Athletes who test positive for a prohibited substance while holding a TUE for that substance are not considered to have committed an anti-doping rule violation. In certain circumstances, TUEs are sometimes granted retrospectively after a positive test, known as a retroactive TUE.

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    The three riders have been provisionally suspended from the date of notification (21 December) until the FEI Tribunal makes a decision on their case, but can ask for the provisional suspension to be lifted and for their B sample to be tested within the next 21 days.

    H&H attempted to contact Hannah Sue to ask if she wanted to make a statement, but had received no response at the time of publishing.

    *Updated*: Saturday 23 December to include Alyssa Phillips’ statement.

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