Pessoa suspended, fined, and disqualified for horse doping

October 4, 2008

Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa has been handed a four and half month suspension and fined 2000 Swiss Francs ($US1772, $NZ2676) for a doping offence at the Olympic Games. Pessoa and Rufus have also been disqualified from their fifth individual placing in the Olympic showjumping competition.

The decision was made by the panel of the FEI Tribunal. Pessoa's suspension started on August 29 and will run up to January 10, 2009.

The FEI said: "It is each Person Responsible's personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance is present in his or her horse's body during an Event. Persons Responsible are responsible for any Prohibited Substance found to be present in their horse's bodily samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Person Responsible's part be demonstrated in order to establish an anti-doping rule or medication control violation."


Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and Rufus.

In reaching its conclusion the Tribunal concluded the substance at issue - Nonivamide - was a "Medication Class A" rather than a "Doping" substance based on its interpretation of the list of prohibited substances. In considering the sanctions to be given to Pessoa in this case, the Tribunal took into account the fact that the nature of the substance involved is not only a pain relieving substance, but also an agent that can be used for hypersensitisation purposes, and the source of the presence of the substance has not been established by Pessoa. It also took into account several of Pessoa's suggestions regarding the presence of the substance revealed poor stable management for this level of event, he fact that the actions taken by the team to control all possibilities of contamination and actions taken following the positive finding to reveal its source were not at the same level as established by other teams at the same or similar events. Another consideration is that the substance is a newly detectable substance which is often used by riders for legitimate therapeutic reasons.

Pessoa has 30 days to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Interim decisions in the prohibited substance cases involving the horses Coster ridden by Christian Ahlmann (Germany) and Camiro ridden by Tony Andre Hansen (Norway) have also been issued. The Tribunal has decided not to lift the provisional suspensions until the final decisions are rendered.