August 29, 2008

Horse Sport Ireland has established an expert group to advise its board on procedures and controls to avoid horse doping issues similar to the one which arose at the Olympic Games with Irish show jumper Denis Lynch.

Following a meeting of HSI's board on Thursday in Naas, Chairman Joe Walsh said that as the new Governing Body for the sport, Horse Sport Ireland was totally committed to a clean sport where the welfare of the horse was a top priority.


HSI chairman Joe Walsh
"This is a very complex area with very difficult veterinary and legal issues to be looked at. I have asked this expert group to propose measures that will ensure prohibited substances have no part to play in equestrian sport. As an industry we must adopt a zero tolerance approach," he said.

The group will be Chaired by Dr Gordon Holmes, Solicitor and former Deputy Chief Steward of the Turf Club.

Joe Walsh said he would be asking the group to provide its findings to the board before the end of the year with a view to having the new procedures in place for 2009.

"It is important that we address all eventualities, not just the most recent case. Unfortunately we have had a number of high profile cases involving horses testing positive and we need to look at the lessons from all of these," he said.

However Walsh said that he wanted to stress that Horse Sport Ireland had taken several precautions in advance of the games including ensuring the horses had been tested post-competition in the run up to the games and carrying out post-competition testing ourselves in cases where they had not been tested by the FEI. In addition all the Irish horses were submitted for the FEI's voluntary testing programme in Hong Kong.

"Everybody involved with Horse Sport Ireland is asking themselves what more we could have done to prevent this catastrophe. However some of the suggestions being put forward are not as straightforward as people think. I am confident that this group will give us the best advice to ensure that we take every possible measure to try and avoid this situation occurring again," he said.

Walsh confirmed that Denis Lynch's case would be heard by the FEI in Lausanne on Saturday September 6. He said in light of this Horse Sport Ireland would not be making any further comment on this specific case.