Horse failed drug test because of dewormer contamination, tribunal told

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A Saudi Arabian showjumper’s horse probably failed a drugs test as a result of inadvertent contamination with a common dewormer while competing in Poland, the FEI Tribunal was told.

Ramzy Hamad Al Duhami competed with the horse Deejay in the CSIO5* Nations Cup event in Poland between June 9 and 12 last year.

Deejay was selected for testing on June 12 and his A sample proved positive for the controlled medication aminorex.

Aminorex is a drug that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and has high potential to affect performance. It was introduced as a prescription appetite suppressant in certain countries in 1965, but was withdrawn in 1972 after it was found to cause high blood pressure in some patients and was linked to several deaths.

The B sample analysis was carried out on October 6, 2016, and confirmed the A sample result.

Al Duhami, who agreed the terms of a settlement with the FEI that was accepted by the tribunal, said he had never heard of aminorex. No-one to his knowledge had given it to Deejay.

Inquiries revealed that aminorex is a metabolic byproduct of the dewormer Levamisole, which is widely available and can sometimes present as a false positive for the prohibited aminorex.

Levamisole is the most widely used dewormer in Poland and it is highly likely it had previously been used at the event venue in June, when the horse was tested.

He argued that it was highly likely Deejay was exposed to the dewormer at the event.

He said he had taken substantial measures to ensure that horse’s system did not contain any prohibited substances. He had Deejay stabled on his own in the FEI stables and he was only hand-walked by the groom in the facility where the event was held.

It was established that the way to exclude Levamisole as the source of the aminorex was to exclude the presence of 4-phenyl-2-imidazolidinone (Compound II) in the sample. The samples had not been tested for the presence of this compound.

Al Duhami, with the consent of the FEI, went to some lengths to have the A sample tested in a Philadelphia Laboratory for 4-phenyl-2-imidazolidinone (Compound II), which would support his contention it was Levamisole contamination.

To his great disappointment, the lab said there was not enough plasma to conduct further testing.

The FEI said the science on the matter was quite complex.

It said it investigated the case though the veterinary pharmacologist professor Stuart Paine and felt that, based on the submissions made and the evidence provided, the most likely cause of the positive aminorex finding was some sort of contamination from Levamisole.

Paine told the FEI that aminorex itself was a potent stimulant considered to have a very high potential to affect racing performance. It had no generally accepted medical use. It was not a commonly abused drug and commercial sources of it were not readily accessible.

The FEI said it was satisfied that contamination by Levamisole at the event site was the most plausible explanation for how the aminorex came to be in Deejay’s system.

It acknowledged that Al Duhami has taken considerable care to keep his horse free of prohibited substances and therefore considered that he bore No Significant Fault or Negligence for the rule violation.

Al Duhami usually stabled his horses in a professional equestrian facility near Brussels, Belgium. His support personnel, such as the groom, the driver and the veterinarian, had significant experience in the sport of jumping.

However, it was the rider’s second medication control rule violation, the first being in December 2013.

The circumstances, it said, were exceptional and it agreed that the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility of six months for the aminorex should be reduced to three months, starting from the date of the voluntary suspension – September 11, 2017. Al Duhami was therefore able to resume competing this week, on December 10.

The agreement between the parties also called for a fine of 2000 Swiss Francs and that 1000 francs be paid toward legal costs.

The tribunal, comprising Chris Hodson, QC, Henrik Arle and Armand Leone, ratified the agreement.

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