Canada backs progressive drugs list but supports delay

December 19, 2009

Equine Canada supports the so-called progressive list of drugs that would allow low levels of some anti-inflammatories in competition horses, but also backs moves to delay a final decision till late next year.

The governing body for equestrian sport in Canada said yesterday that it had voted in support of the progressive list at the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) General Assembly in November.

However, Canada said it had expressed its serious concerns at the General Assembly that the proposal had been circulated to national federations shortly before the meeting in Copenhagen, allowing no time for consultations with its veterinary advisers, equine welfare committee or disciplines.

Nevertheless, it voted in favour of the list, which was passed by 53-48.

The decision has caused uproar in the equestrian community, with the FEI initially delaying implementation from January 1 to April 5.

The FEI announced early today (NZ time) that a final call on the progressive list had been delayed to the November, 2010, General Assembly in Chinese Taipei - a move which pushes it beyond the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and defuses any likelihood of boycotts.

Equine Canada said it and a narrow majority of national federations voted in favour of the new non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) policy on the grounds that the underlying principles were consistent with those of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) position on the pain-relieving use of non-performance enhancing NSAID treatments for human athletes.

The Canadian body said delaying the final decision to Taipei would provide member nations with the benefit of additional scientific analysis and time for national deliberations.

"Equine Canada agrees that implementation of an FEI NSAID policy would benefit from additional research, education, and consultation," it said.

"Whatever knowledge is available about the effects of implementing an NSAID policy should be documented and presented to all national federations, so that the best possible programme can be structured to protect the health and welfare of our equine athletes."