German Olympic gold at risk

  • Germany risks being stripped of its show jumping team gold after one of the team’s horses tested positive for banned drug betamethasone.

    Ludger Beerbaum’s mount, Goldfever, failed the doping test in Athens. Last week, counter tests on a backup sample — also taken from the horse in Athens — confirmed the earlier results.

    The German show jumping team now risks losing its Olympic title, despite Beerbaum’s claims earlier this year that the drugs had been administered for medical reasons and did not have any effect on performance. However, the matter is unlikely to be settled quickly.

    The International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) medical sub-committee will first review the lab report on Goldfever. If it concludes that Goldfever has been doped, it will ask Beerbaum for a written explanation and will remit the case in the hands of the FEI’s judicial committee, which may grant Beerbaum a hearing before ruling on the case.

    Beerbaum will also have a chance to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against an unfavourable verdict. Only then will the International Olympic Committee decide whether the German team keep their gold or lose it to the Americans, who took the silver in Athens. In this case, Sweden would take the silver and the Netherlands would get the bronze.

    The team show jumping would be the third Olympic gold medal Germany loses to legal disputes, after a judging revision over Bettina Hoy’s performance assigned the eventing team gold to Britain and the individual gold to Leslie Law.

    Hoy’s Ringwood Cockatoo B-sample also tested positive to a banned sedative and anti-histamine drug — diphenhydramine — confirming the Athens results. The German federation has asked Hoy and Beerbaum to provide an explanation within 15 days.

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