King doping decision 'peculiar' and unexpected - USEF

October 9, 2008

by Joanie Morris

The United States Equestrian Federation says the decision on the positive medication test of Mythilus, Courtney King-Dye's dressage horse was unexpected and "peculiar".

The US dressage team and the USEF received the decision on September 22 from the FEI Tribunal, which meant the disqualification of King-Dye and the entire US dressage team from its fourth place at the Olympic Games.

Mythilus tested positive for the medication Felbinac after the Dressage Individual Grand Prix Freestyle portion of the Olympic Games. Felbinac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and used on humans to treat ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis. Felbinac is classified as a "Medication A", not a drug by the FEI. It is not approved for use by the FDA nor is it manufactured in the United States but it is used in the Far East and China. It is used topically and is therefore easily absorbed through the skin, the USEF said.


Courtney King-Dye and Mythilus competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
"The USEF understands the FEI's philosophy of fair play and medication-free sport," said John Long CEO of the USEF.

"We have the same commitment here in the United States with our Drugs and Medications program but in this situation; the consequences resulting from a doping violation and a medication contamination are being treated as one and the same. This is not a doping case; the FEI clearly states that in their decision. We stand behind Courtney and our Dressage team and although we recognize the fact that Mythilus tested positive and that is undeniable, the punishment of losing our team placing does not fit these circumstances."

The FEI found in their ruling that: "the Tribunal found the evidence of the Person Responsible (PR) and the US Dressage Team Vet to be credible and believed that neither the PR nor anyone on her behalf or related to the USEF had knowingly administered the medication to the horse. The Tribunal further accepted the PR's and USEF's arguments that they have done almost everything in their power to ensure that no rule violation shall occur. The Tribunal also considered the type of Medication A substance involved and its therapeutic applications, the fact that the same substance may not be considered as a doping substance, the specific circumstances relating to the horse's hospitalization in Hong Kong and the possibility of contamination, the excellent stable management practiced by the US team and measures placed to try and ensure the no horse with prohibited substances participates at the Olympic Games."

The FEI Tribunal's Decision recognizes that it is bound by the constraints of its own rules to where it cannot interpret them to apply them to a case the Tribunal itself says could be a result of accidental contamination.

The FEI has a strict liability policy in regards to doping and medication violations which means that: no intention is required in order to establish a doping or a medication rule violation. The mere presence of a prohibited substance in the horse's systems is sufficient. Additionally, the FEI is not required to demonstrate any competitive advantage to the PR resulting from the presence of the drug.

The Mythilus case is peculiar, the USEF says, because the Tribunal states in its finding that "Dr Wan, testifying on behalf of the FEI, accepted that accidental contact of Felbinac with a horse's skin could result in a positive finding and that the Tribunal found the evidence of the PR and the US Dressage Team Vet to be credible and believed that neither the PR nor anyone on her behalf or related to the USEF had knowingly administered the medication to the horse."

"The fact is: the FEI has to punish me according the FEI rule book because I cannot prove where the medication came from. I can't prove it because I don't know," King-Dye said on September 23, 2008.

"I cannot place blame or resentment anywhere. I think my vet, my groom, my Federation and Team, and I did everything right, carefully and according to the rules. I also think that the FEI and the Tribunal handled the hearing professionally, proficiently, and well. I feel everyone involved did their best to follow the rules and to do the right thing in accordance with their jobs, and I am grateful that the Tribunal clearly acknowledges my innocence.

"They are bound by the wording of a rule, and it is their job to uphold the rules to the letter to the best of their ability. It is my hope that the wording of this rule will be re evaluated. All people who use medications illegally should be punished, but the rules should also provide a way to vindicate a person who has demonstrated clear adherence to the rules and who is simply caught in a strange situation."

Neither King-Dye nor US dressage team veterinarian Dr Richard Mitchell has ever had a positive medication test of a horse in their care.

Neither the USEF nor King-Dye will appeal the Tribunal's decision.