A Qatari endurance rider whose mount tested positive for the banned substance propoxyphene has been suspended from competing for two years and fined 1000 Swiss Francs.
Ali Yousef J Y Al Kubaisi rode a horse named In Situ in the 120-kilometre two-star endurance competition at Mesaieed, in Doha, Qatar, on February 22.
The horse subsequently returned a positive test for propoxyphene, which is a painkiller with local anaesthetic properties. The B sample was tested at Al Kubaisi’s request and was also positive for the drug.
Al Kubaisi told the FEI Tribunal, comprising Jane Mulcahy, Erik Elstad and Randi Haukebo, during a preliminary hearing that he could not explain the source of the propoxyphene, but that an investigation had been launched at the horse’s stable.
Al Kubaisi subsequently filed statements in his defence from himself, Dr Silvio Antonio Arroyo dos Santos Filho, who is senior veterinarian at the Al Shaqab Stables, and Christian Lozano, an endurance technical adviser for the Qatar Organizing Committee.
Dr Filho explained that, in the year before the endurance race, In Situ had not shown any clinical problem or condition requiring treatment with any prohibited substances. He said he had not administered any prohibited substances to the horse.
Lozano told the tribunal that Al Kubaisi was not the owner, trainer or veterinarian of the horse. Rather, he had been riding for Al Shaqab Stables and simply competed with the wrong horse at the wrong time.
He proffered the view that Al Kubaisi had no idea how to medicate a horse.
The FEI, in its submission, said the rules deemed the rider to be the Person Responsible. The fact that propoxyphene had been found in the horse’s urine had not been disputed, and Al Kubaisi had not shown how it came to be there, nor had he managed to establish that he bore no fault or negligence in the matter.
Subsequently, Al Kubaisi submitted statements from the horse’s trainer, Abdul Aziz Al Jabir.
In the first statement, Al Jabir explained that, without Kubaisi’s knowledge, he had orally given one tablet of a product, Darvocet-N 100 mg, to the horse 24 hours before the competition.
He said he assumed full responsibility for giving the banned substance.
He was then invited by the FEI to provide further details on the exact time of administration, the location of the administration, and where he had obtained the product.
Al Jabir provided a response in which he said he had earlier given the wrong information. The substance he had given the horse was in fact Fustex, provided by a company called Chinfield in Argentina. Propoxyphene had not been listed on the outside label, he said.
He said 1 milligram of the product had been given to In Situ by intramuscular injection during the morning on the day before the race.
The FEI noted that Al Jabir had entirely changed his evidence. It noted that he had not provided any reasons for the sudden change of explanation and no supporting evidence, such as an entry in the FEI Medication Logbook or similar, for the alleged administration.
The FEI argued that his statements lacked credibility, and could therefore not be considered convincing evidence that proved how the propoxyphene had entered In Situ’s system.
The tribunal concurred that Al Jabir’s statements lacked credibility and were therefore not sufficient to establish the source of the drug.
It ruled that Al Kubaisi had not adequately established how the propoxyphene had entered In Situ’s system.
However, even if this had been established, Al Kubaisi had not satisfied the tribunal that he had fulfilled the duty of care expected of him as a rider.
“All he did was rely on the trainer and veterinary team without making any further enquiry or taking any other precautionary measures,” the tribunal said
In addition to the suspension and fine, Al Kubaisi was ordered to contribute 1000 Swiss Francs towards the costs of the judicial procedure.
The full FEI Tribunal decision can be read here.