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Seventeen months of suspension and obligatory anti-doping work for Jordanian young rider

Tuesday, 03 March 2020
FEI Tribunal

Jordanian young rider has to support FEI’s anti-doping campaign after her horse tests positive to stanozolol, 16-beta-hydroxystanozolol, phenylbutazon and oxyphenbutazone

Illustration photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Illustration photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

A Jordanian young rider has been suspended by the FEI for 17 months and also must support the FEI in its anti-doping campaign as well as actively engaging in anti-doping education, after her horse tested positive to stanozolol, 16-beta-hydroxystanozolol, phenylbutazon and oxyphenbutazone. The rider was also fined 5000 CHF and had to cover legal costs of 2500 CHF. Separate proceedings have been opened against the veterinarian in the case, who treated the horse with the anabolic steroid stanozolol – which is prohibited at all times under the FEI rules. The FEI said the administration of the substance was “truly negligent”. 

The horse tested positive during the CSIY-B event in Amman, Jordan, on 18-19 October 2018. The following month, the rider was notified by the FEI about the adverse analytical finding and the alleged violation of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping Rules (EAD Rules) art. 2.1. 

In January 2020, the FEI and the rider reached an agreement – approved by the FEI Tribunal. 

Stanozolol and its metabolite 16-beta-hydroxystanozolol, are anabolic steroids that are used to improve performance by promoting muscular development. The substances are classified as banned under the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List. Phenylbutazone and its metabolite oxyphenbutazone are anti-inflammatory drugs with analgesic effects and classified as controlled medication substances under the FEI List. 

In November 2019, the rider admitted the violation and had found a plausible explanation for the positive finding. By its regular veterinarian, the horse had been given the product Sungate – which contains stanozolol and bute. The latter contains phenylbutazone. 

In a statement, the veterinarian – who had worked for the family for 17 years – explained that the horse suffered from lameness due to degeneration joint disease and also chronic kissing spine disease. Due to this he treated the horse “with an intra-articular injection of Sungate (Stanozolol 5mg/ml and HA, (Hyaluronic Acid) and Amikacin (Antibiotics) on the right hind stifle joint and in addition both lower hocks with Triamcinolone, HA ad Amikacin. The thoracic region, the spinal process and the sacroiliac regio was treated with Sarapin ,Triamcinolone, Vit E and Sungate on sacroiliac region. After that he recommend the stable manager and trainer to give Gastroprotector, Bute, Methocarbamol tablets and Vit E orally, to help the horse to recovery from the pain and lameness.” 

The treatments were done in the first week of October 2018. The vet gave instructions to the stable manager and trainer not to ride the horse the following two months, in order for the horse to be able to fully recover. The vet did not know that the rider was planning on competing the horse shortly after the treatment, from October 18-19. 

To the FEI the rider explained that she is one of the most talented riders in Jordan. She lives for her horses, and the well-being of the horses has always been a top priority for her. She said she plays a decisive role in ensuring that the horses are treated exceptionally well in the family stables. She never wanted anything to do with doping. 

Although the rider controlled the medical reports of the horse, she pointed out that she is not a veterinarian. The treatment reports did not mention a banned substance being administered to the horse. The family had a system in place for medical treatments of their horses: They could only be done by a vet – a carefully selected specialist – that had the duty to respect FEI rules. The vet also had the duty to inform the rider or stable manager about whether or not the horse could compete or if competition should be avoided. The rider was of the strong belief that this protocol had been followed. 

While the vet had informed the stable manager, there had according to the rider been a misunderstanding – due to language barriers. Hence, the stable manager did not inform the rider correctly about the actual instructions from the vet to not ride the horse for two months. The rider said she was misled by the stable manager. Furthermore, the rider submitted that: “In fact, the treatment with the Horse was very successful and the horse did improve a lot during the days after the first medical intervention. The Horse also recovered faster than expected and after a few days it did not show any signs of lameness anymore. The fact that the horse recovered so well and so fast did not lead the PR to doubt the health and welfare of the horse for competition.” 

The rider also explained how neither the Jordanian national federation nor the FEI had informed and educated her about these exceptionally strict control rules. Furthermore, the rider pointed out that no one had ever explained her the "strict liability principle" in all its facets. 

The FEI accepted that the rider on a balance of probabilities had established how the substances entered the horse’s body. When determining the degree of fault or negligence for the rule violation, the FEI pointed out that the starting point of any evaluation is the “personal duty” of the person responsible (PR) – ref. the EAD Rules art. 2.1.1. The FEI stated that the PR cannot rely on any other person to perform hers/his duty of care, as established by CAS jurisprudence. The duty of care on the PR is very high, and the PRs are the responsible for any treatment given to their horses by their support personnel. The FEI submitted CAS jurisprudence that confirms that the rider is, no matter what, the PR for the horse she/he is competing with and cannot delegate that duty to another person. 

The FEI submitted that in cases where the PR or their support personnel actually have administered or treated a horse willingly with a banned substance, ‘no fault and negligence’ cannot be applied – ref. the EAD Rules. 

From the FEI’s perspective, the violation was very serious and the horse was not fit to compete since it had several treatments that were inconsistent and non-compliant with normal equine veterinary treatments for competition horses. The FEI especially pointed out the treatment with Sungate, containing the anabolic steroid stanozolol – not only prohibited at all times under the FEI rules, but also prohibited by law in many countries. 

However, after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and compared with similar case law the FEI concluded that the PR had fulfilled the requirements for ‘no significant fault and negligence’ for the rule violation – ref. the EAD Rules.

The FEI pointed out that the PR is a young girl who trusted in an experienced veterinarian to perform his duties correctly and in accordance with the rules. The decision reads: “The PR had delegated the duties of care to the veterinarian and the stable manager, and trusted them in their work. The fact that she has reviewed the veterinary documents, but had limited knowledge as to what was prohibited and in addition that such record did not contain the use of the banned substance Stanozolol, is factors to be taken into consideration and it can properly be termed as constituting a lesser degree of fault so that the No Significant Fault defence under 10.5.2 can be applied for this case.”

Subsequently, the parties agreed that the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility of two years should be reduced to seventeen months. 

Read the full decision here. 

 

 

 

 

 

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