FEI Tribunal case: Dad had not wanted to worry his daughter over horse’s mild colic

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File image. © Cymon Taylor

A young Dutch showjumper has been given a short suspension and a fine after her mount failed a drugs test, in a case in which her father had not told her about the horse’s treatment for mild colic.

The two-month suspension imposed on 18-year-old Britt Wiefferink, together with a fine of 1500 Swiss francs and the payment of 1000 francs towards legal costs, were agreed between the young woman and the FEI, in a deal accepted by the FEI Tribunal.

Wiefferink had ridden the horse Alpha VDL in an international 2* jumping competition at Wierden, in the Netherlands, from May 31 to June 3 this year.

Alpha VDL was selected for testing and returned a positive result for Flunixin, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller, and Butylscopolamine, which is an anticholinergic used to treat spasms of the digestive tract.

Both are classified as Controlled Medication Substances under the Equine Prohibited Substances List.

Neither Wiefferink nor the owner of the US-registered horse requested that the B sample be tested.

The agreement subsequently reached between Wiefferink and the FEI in the case, including an explanation for the positive test result, are described in a recent FEI Tribunal decision.

The rider’s father, Mr Wiefferink, explained that the family had a stable near the house where he and his wife take care of the horses.

Their daughter had just turned 18 and was at university.

He had called their vet late last May over a colic incident. The vet injected the horse and Mr Wiefferink was happy to see that the horse was doing much better the next day.

Because he did not want to worry his daughter, he did not tell her about the horse’s health issues and he had no idea that this would impact on the competition later that week.

He said he was so stressed by the colic incident that he was not thinking at all about the upcoming competition. Otherwise, he would have asked the vet to issue a veterinary certificate.

He stressed that his daughter did not know anything about the health issues of the horse, nor did she know that the vet had visited the stable and injected medication.

Due to the fact that the horse urgently needed help from a vet, he did not think about the possible consequences for his daughter at the competition.

It was not his intention, he said, to influence the results of the competition in favor of his daughter, since he just wanted to help the horse and release it from its pain. He said he was never aware of the possibility that the medication would lead to a rule violation.

Britt Wiefferink confirmed that she had no idea about the treatment given to the horse, nor that it had been sick. Had she known, she would have asked the vet to sign the appropriate veterinary form and would have informed the competition vet.

The veterinarian who treated the horse, a Dr Zanderink, said she had examined the horse at the Wiefferinks’ stable and had diagnosed a slight cramp colic, which did not seem very serious. She injected drugs that contained Flunixine and Butylscopalamine to make the horse more comfortable.

The veterinarian said she was not aware the horse was going to compete.

The FEI said it was satisfied that the evidence showed how the drugs came to be in the horse’s system.

It considered that Britt Wiefferink bore no significant fault or negligence in the case. She had demonstrated that she had procedures in place to prevent positive findings. She had no idea about the fact that the horse was treated by the veterinarian and had shown a good knowledge of the rules, including the need for a medication logbook, and also that she needed to have the appropriate vet form signed off by the veterinary director at the competition in case of an emergency.

In the circumstances, the FEI felt that the normally applicable disqualification of six months should be reduced to two months, running from August 7, which is the date the positive test was notified. This means she has now served the suspension.

Erik Elstad, sitting as a one-member tribunal panel, said he was satisfied the agreement represented a bona fide settlement of the case.

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