August 21, 2008

Four Olympic showjumpers have been suspended following positive tests to the substance capsaicin.

Germanys' Christian Ahlmann (Coster) returned a positive test to capsaicin on August 17. He, along with Brazil's Bernardo Alves (Chupa Chup), Ireland's Denis Lynch (Lantinus), and Norway's Tony Andre Hansen (Camiro) have been provisionally suspended by the FEI.

Three of the riders - Alves, Lynch and Hansen - were to line up in the individual Olympic showjumping final.


Christian Ahlmann and Coster in action in Sweden. © Annica Feltendal
Capsaicin is the chemical that gives red pepper its fire. It has applications as a topical painkiller. It is classified as a (doping) prohibited substance given its hypersensitizing properties, and as a (medication class A) prohibited substance for its pain relieving properties.

Christian Ahlmann was notified of his suspension on Wednesday night, further to receipt of the test results by the FEI from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Laboratory yesterday afternoon. The result was returned on the A sample taken from the horse. The B sample will be tested on Friday.

The FEI provisionally suspends all competitors who test positive in doping or positive medication cases at the Olympic Games in the interests of the integrity of the sport. A preliminary hearing was held at 10am this morning before a member of the FEI Tribunal who confirmed the suspension.

A German team veterinarian, Bjoern Nolting has been quoted on a German news website saying he was concerned that the positive result may have come from chillies applied to the horse's skin as a superficial treatment.

The other riders - Hansen, Alves, and Lynch - were notified earlier today further of their positive test results this morning. All were provisionally suspended.

The results of the B sample testing could affect earlier results, notably Norway's bronze medal placing in the team event earlier in the week.

Hearings were held this afternoon with the national federations involved before a member of the FEI Tribunal who confirmed the suspension.

Confirmatory analysis of the B-samples will be carried out shortly according to the accelerated procedure in place for the Olympic Games. Upon report of a positive B-sample result, evidence and written submissions will be requested from the rider, and a three member panel of the FEI Tribunal will be appointed. The panel will decide on any sanctions as early as possible, and providing for a hearing to be held as necessary. The competition results will be amended as indicated in the Tribunal's final decision.


Christian Ahlmann and Coster during the veterinary trot-up before the Olympic showjumping competition in Hong Kong. © Dirk Caremans