US Eventers fined, suspended over failure to get medication exemptions

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Three US-registered Eventing riders have each been fined and suspended for a year after failing human drug tests conducted under the FEI’s anti-doping programme.

Samples taken from Alyssa Phillips, Hannah Burnett and Jennie Brannigan were positive for the stimulant amphetamine.

In addition, Phillips’ sample contained the diuretic canrenone, and the sample taken from Brannigan also included the stimulant methylphenidate and its metabolic byproduct, ritalinic acid.

Written agreement was reached between each rider and the FEI on the circumstances around the infractions and the penalties that would be applied — in each case a 12-month suspension and a fine of 1500 Swiss francs.

These agreements were accepted this week by the FEI Tribunal, comprising Laurent Niddam, Constance Popineau and Harveen Thauli.

The three US athletes were tested at the Ocala-Reddick CCI in Florida last November.

Each was provisionally suspended from December 21 last year, when they were advised of their positive drug findings.

The drugs in question were primarily related to the treatment of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

“All three athletes were able to prove no significant fault or negligence and the circumstances of the cases show that none of them had the intention to dope,” the FEI’s legal director, Mikael Rentsch, said.

“In light of this, and the fact that the athletes have subsequently been granted therapeutic use exemptions for these medications, the parties agreed that the period of ineligibility should be reduced to 12 months, and the FEI tribunal has approved that.”

Additionally, the athletes are required to support the FEI in its anti-doping campaign and to actively engage in athlete education, including providing testimonials for FEI education material. And they must complete an anti-doping education course within one year of the FEI Tribunal’s final decision.

In the case of Brannigan, who was competing in the CIC3*, it was shown that her positive test was caused by her use of medications for which she held a valid medical prescription and for which she provided comprehensive medical documentation.

The decision noted that she had struggled with depression, attention issues, as well as ADHD symptoms for her entire life, but had not sought help through medication until she sustained head injuries/concussions in the past two years.

Medications were listed on her doping control form, but she did not have a therapeutic use exemption for them when she competed. One has since been granted.

Her use of these medications was unrelated to her sport performance, but rather was to treat her ADHD symptoms as well as depression.

In the case of Burnett, who was competing in the CCI1* and CIC3*, it was shown that her positive test was a result of medication for ADHD.

The tribunal was told that she has had a genuine and documented history of ADHD since childhood.

The positive test was caused by her use of a medication for which she now has a valid medical prescription. She, too, has since obtained a therapeutic use exemption.

It was revealed that ADHD medication had been recommended to Burnett at the age of 10, but her parents were philosophically opposed. Conversely, her brother and his children have been able to benefit from ADHD medication.

It was stated that Burnett was extremely grateful for her now formal diagnosis of ADHD.

In the case of Phillips, who was competing in CCI1*, CCI2* and CIC3* events, the substances in question were declared in her doping control form, but she did not have a therapeutic use exemption.

Her positive test was caused by her use of medications for which she has a valid medical prescription and for which she also had provided comprehensive medical documentation.

She had been under the mistaken belief that her use of the medication, given to treat her ADHD, was permitted.

Each of the parties will bear their own legal costs.

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