UAE rider’s ban extended over breaches of suspension

NZ-endurance-champs8509A rider from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) serving a four-year ban after his endurance mount tested positive for testosterone has had his suspension extended by a month after breaching its terms.

Ali Mohammed Al Muhairi received the original suspension on March 21, 2012. Under its terms, he was not allowed to participate in any capacity or be present at any event authorised or organised by the FEI, other than as a spectator.

The FEI Tribunal, in a decision published this week, extended the suspension by a month, through to April 21 this year.

The tribunal panel, comprising Erik Elstad, Jane Mulcahy and Armand Leone, said the original suspension involved the gelding Karabil Kaiya Hai, who tested positive for the banned substance testosterone at a level above the international threshold of 20 ng/ml.

Noting that Al Muhairi had violated the anti-doping rules in 2009, the tribunal panel that originally heard the case decided to suspend him for four years.

He earned no credit for his provisional suspension, with the tribunal noting that Al Muhairi had not respected its terms. He had attended several FEI and national events, had been present at the vet gate area, and had appeared on the podium for the prizegiving ceremony.

Al Muhairi’s suspension was therefore to run until March 21 this year.

Traversing the facts in the current case, the tribunal cited evidence that Al Muhairi had been seen by a senior endurance official at a CEI4* event at Euston Park, Thetford, England, late in 2012. He was seen by the chief steward, Kevin Croke, in the crewing/hold area, which is part of the field of play.

Al Muhairi was asked to leave the field of play and did so. Croke said he later heard that Al Muhairi had returned to the field of play later the same day – something he was able to confirm through watching a YouTube video.

Al Muhairi later acknowledged the first rule violation as alleged. He said that, in his capacity as racing manager for a member of the ruling family of Dubai, it was his “first calling and utmost duty to represent and advise the sheikh whenever requested”.

On January 20 this year, the FEI notified Al Muhairi that further violations had been reported to the FEI, and provided him with the opportunity to respond.

The FEI provided statements from Abdul Aziz Sheikh, Nasri Nowwar and Horst Müller, who had acted as officials during the CEI2* in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, on March 2, 2013.

Al Muhairi had been present on the field of play (at the vet gate), and on the podium of the prizegiving ceremony during the event. Al Muhairi had been asked to leave.

He acknowledged that he was not allowed on the field of play due to his suspension, but said that since the event was sponsored by the owner of the stables he had been working for as general manager, it was hard for him not to be with his team.

In a later written explanation, he said he had been present at the prizegiving ceremony at the second event, but only as business manager for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s sponsorship of the event, and that the latter had asked him to thank all team members, FEI officials and support staff on his behalf at the ceremony.

The tribunal, in its ruling, said it was satisfied that both violations had been proved.

In extending the ban by a month, the tribunal said it took note that no more alleged violations had been reported for the rest of the period of ineligibility over the past three years.

“The tribunal finds that a new period of ineligibility of one month is appropriate in the case at hand.”

Al Muhairi was ordered to contribute 500 Swiss francs towards the costs of the legal procedure.

The full tribunal decision can be read here

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