Dope-testing on the up in ‘high-risk’ competition areas *H&H Plus*

  • After eight endurance cases were heard by the FEI Tribunal during the past month, H&H finds out how the FEI’s risk-based strategic approach to dope-testing is paying off...

    An increase in dope testing is on the cards for “high-risk” countries, the FEI has confirmed. The body has been increasing testing over the past four years and plans to expand this further.

    H&H had asked whether a rise in testing was behind the fact the FEI Tribunal heard eight endurance doping cases in a month (March). In the same period, one reining and one showjumping case were heard.

    “From 1 January 2016, the FEI’s global equine anti-doping and controlled medication programme (EADCMP) was rolled out worldwide, with increased testing throughout all levels of FEI disciplines,” an FEI spokesman told H&H.

    “In 2017 the FEI took a more risk-based strategic approach, which has led to increased testing in high-risk areas with the aim of safeguarding horse welfare and ensuring a level playing field.

    “The strategy has led to a higher number of positive cases, proving that endurance in some parts of the world has major challenges with compliance to [requirements]. The FEI is aiming to continue to increase testing in high-risk countries and will appoint FEI testing vets to carry [this] out at some of the most prestigious events once the FEI calendar returns to normal.”

    The FEI has also introduced its hyposensitivity control programme, which detects horses who may have been nerve-blocked during rides.

    “Clean sport is an absolute must,” added the spokesman. “It is clear we, like all international federations, need to continue to work to get the message across that clean sport and a level playing field are non-negotiable.”

    The FEI Tribunal cases

    The positive tests were between January 2018 and September 2019, at events in a range of countries, mostly in the Middle East, and riders of various nationalities.

    Two involved accidental contamination involving specified substances — those that may be in a horse’s system as a result of contamination – and riders in both cases were cleared of any wrongdoing, with no fines or bans.

    Another case related to a sedative allegedly given to the horse while he was clipped 35 hours before the race, with the banned substance testosterone accounting for two other cases.

    Three cases found a mix of controlled medications in horses’ systems. These are substances with a legitimate use in equine veterinary medicine, but must not be present on competition days.

    In February 2019 at a CEI2* in Saudi Arabia, Alrahawi was found to have seven controlled medications (two of which were metabolites) in his system.

    “The ‘cocktail’ consists of anti-inflammatory medication, local anaesthetics, medications for treatment of skin diseases and corticosteroids,” stated the FEI evidence. “This indicated several medical conditions that in the FEI’s view would render the horse unfit to compete.”

    The FEI added the use of anaesthetics also increases the risk of catastrophic injury.

    The rider Abdulelah Alonaizi submitted a statement that the trainer Alyazeed Al Dawood, the vet and owner bear responsibility.

    He stated he was unaware anything had been given to the horse before the event.

    He added he contacted the owner and trainer after the results of the test, with the vet allegedly telling them that there should have been enough time for the drugs to be out of the horse’s system before the event.

    The trainer co-signed the statement provided by Mr Alonaizi, but did not provide any explanation for the findings.

    Both the rider and trainer were suspended for a year, fined 3,500CHF (£2,909) and ordered to pay 1,500CHF (£1,246) costs.

    In the other two cases of multiple substances, one was attributed to human error; the second said this was his first FEI competition and he did not know about the clean sport rules.

    Horse Al Jarri tested positive for bute and a metabolite of the drug, as well as dexamethasone, a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effect, at a CEI2* in Dubai in November 2018.

    Rider Ali Mubarak Salem Mohd Bin Allooba said the drugs are used in routine treatment after long training rides. He added Al Jarri had not done such a ride as the team was happy with how he was going and entered him in the endurance ride instead, but someone forgot to take his name off a list given to the vet.

    “The person responsible and his team understands fully that [these drugs] are controlled medications that should not be used so near the competition,” states the explanation. “It was regrettably a human mistake that all the stable staff will work very hard to avoid in the future.”

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