Paget: Thank-you for believing in my innocence

Jonathan "Jock" Paget
Jonathan “Jock” Paget

New Zealand eventer Jock Paget says he has been humbled by those who supported him after his Burghley-winning mount, Clifton Promise, tested positive for reserpine, adding that he wanted to deal with inaccurate information being circulated.

“It’s a relief that I am now able to discuss the facts with people who want to know the truth, which is supported by the FEI ruling,” Paget wrote on his Paget Eventing Facebook page.

Paget said he had not been able to speak about the situation for the past 10 months because of the on-going legal process associated with the positive drugs test returned by Clifton Promise at Burghley in 2013.

That process ended early in August with the release of an FEI Tribunal decision, which delivered a rare “no fault and no negligence” ruling in the case, clearing Paget of any wrongdoing. It is only the second time the tribunal has delivered such a ruling.

He said he wanted to thank all of those who had supported him.

“The thing which has humbled me most is the people that have supported and believed in my innocence even though I have been unable to provide you with any facts or information; it’s been completely overwhelming.”

Jonathan Paget hoists the Badminton Trophy after his win on Clifton Promise.
New Zealand’s Jonathan Paget hoists the Badminton Trophy after his win on Clifton Promise in 2013. © Mike Bain

Paget said for many months he had been having to deal with inaccurate information being circulated.

Clifton Promise, he said, tested positive for reserpine because of a contamination arising from one of the ingredients in a supplement, LesstressE.

He said the level found in the horse was 0.00000000007mg, equivalent to 3.5 drops of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

“The FEI rules have a zero tolerance so the test is positive no matter how small the quantity that has been found,” he said.

“It has been said that the only way reserpine can enter a horse is through an intramuscular Rakelin injection; this is not true. Reserpine comes from a plant called indian snakeroot and we were able to scientifically prove that one of the ingredients used in LesstressE was contaminated with indian snakeroot.”

He said Horse and Hound magazine had incorrectly drawn readers’ attention to Rakelin.

“Rakelin is chemically produced reserpine in its pure form and has no relevance in this case.”

Clifton Promise had been tested negative whilst using LesstressE four times previously, including after their 2013 Badminton-winning performance.

Paget said Horse and Hound incorrectly stated that the FEI was covering all legal costs. “This is also not true. Clearing my name has come at a huge expense and I couldn’t have done it without my support team.”

Paget continued: “It has been carelessly stated that our sport needs cleaning up. I really disagree with this statement.

“This was a contamination, not a doping.

“My experience from the top level of our sport has been that there is a lot of camaraderie amongst the riders and a desire to compete fairly and with a level playing field.

Jock Paget and Clifton Promise.
Jock Paget and Clifton Promise. © Barbara Thomson/Clifton Eventers

“It is a unique sport in the way that fellow competitors, from a wide range of countries, work together with a high level of trust. In my experience, eventers are hardworking, highly motivated individuals with the welfare of their horses their first priority.

“I’m so relieved that it has been proven that this is a contamination which I believe maintains eventing’s reputation as a clean sport. Some have made comments to the contrary, but I believe the facts show them to be misguided.”

Paget said he was hugely grateful for the support from hisy owners, sponsors, fellow riders, family, friends and Equestrians Sports New Zealand.

“If it wasn’t for their support, I wouldn’t have been able to find out how Promise came into contact with reserpine.”

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