Progressive drugs list rethink pleases Aust

December 23, 2009

Equestrian Australia has welcomed the decision of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to put the progressive drugs list on hold and revisit it late next year.

The new drugs list, which would have allowed low levels of a small number of anti-inflammatory drugs in competition horses, was to have been introduced on January 1.

However, the uproar the list generated saw its introduction delayed until April 5 pending further debate, and the FEI announced a week ago that the whole question would now be revisited by the next General Assembly late in 2010.

The FEI has promised it will allow full debate on the list before asking the General Assembly to vote on it.

The decision to delay matters until that meeting, in Chinese Taipei, came after a majority of member nations agreed to the move in an email poll.

"We are very pleased about this decision," Equestrian Australian chief executive Franz Venhaus said.

"The FEI Bureau promptly moved this way once it appreciated the deep divisions it had tapped within equestrian sport and the range of emotions it had unleashed with the progressive list proposal.

"Clearly, by only giving the General Assembly a few days' notice of its intention to put the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in competition to a vote, the FEI had failed its own governance standards.

"We note that the FEI regrets this and will now permit full debate on the issue once all of the information and science is in and laid before the federations and they have had time to discuss it with their own constituencies."

New equine anti-doping and controlled medication regulations will come into force on April 5, including a zero-tolerance drugs list which is effectively an updated version of the list that was in place before the progressive list was voted in.

"This decision makes sense," Equestrian Australia president Paul Cargill said of the FEI's decision to revisit the progressive list question in Chinese Taipei.

"National federations needed to have the opportunity to debate any major change from the present drug regime.

"We need science to support any proposed change in direction, and at present we have not seen anything to convince us that this is the right way to go.

"But all of that is in the future and what Equestrian Australia members need to clearly understand is that for the here and now, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in competition is and remains banned, and compliance will be vigorously enforced through regular and systematic testing in competition and relentless prosecution of alleged offenders under our rules."