FEI Tribunal issues rulings on showjumping disqualifications in two cases

File image. © Cymon Taylor

The FEI Tribunal has laid out the disqualifications of two showjumping horses who failed drug tests at the Central America and Caribbean Games in Bogota, Colombia, in July.

It did so in partial decisions so that individual and team placings could be finalised, and countries and riders could know whether they had qualified for higher-tier competitions.

The multisport Games are for countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the South American Caribbean countries of Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

It is an important event in relation to qualification for the Pan American Games next year.

One case involved the horse Dolly Palo Blanco and her Guatemalan-registered rider Alvaro Enrique Tejada Arriola. The horse was selected for testing on July 26 and July 29 during the Games.

She returned a negative drug test for the July 26 sampling, but her urine sample collected on July 29 tested positive for diisopropylamine.

Diisopropylamine is a vasodilator used in the treatment of peripheral and cerebral vascular disorders. It is classed as a banned substance under FEI anti-doping rules.

The other case involved the horse Le Vio, ridden by Venezuelan-registered rider Pablo Barrios.

Le Vio was selected for tested on July 26 and 29, returning positive tests on both days for caffeine and theophylline.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Theophylline is a bronchodilator used in the treatment of respiratory disease. Caffeine and theophylline can be direct metabolites of each other. Both are listed as specified substances and are classified as controlled medications under the anti-doping rules.

In the first case, the FEI noted that Arriola and Dolly Palo Blanco placed first in the individual competition and first in the team competition. Therefore, the disqualification of their results would have a great impact on the results and medals in the equine competitions.

Arriola, in a submission, said that a product called Top B15+3 was administered to the horse on July 29, which appeared to have been the source of the diisopropylamine.

The FEI said it always sought automatic disqualification from the whole event in cases involving an adverse analytical finding, no matter the reason for the positive finding.

However, in some cases exceptional circumstances may be considered if it can be shown that such results were not likely to have been affected by the drug rule violation.

Given that the horse had tested negative on July 26, the FEI believed this was an exceptional reason, where the results were not likely to have been affected.

“Given the fact that the results of 27 and 29 July 2018 shall be automatically disqualified as per the above, but that the results of 26 July should remain, the implications for the Guatemalan team results are that they will remain bronze medalists.

“Consequently, the team results of the Guatemalan team does not change due to the disqualification of the Person Responsible and horse’s results on the dates of 27 and 29 July.”

Tribunal member Henrik Arle said he agreed that the results of the combination from July 26 should stand.

However, they were disqualified from the later days of the Games, and all medals, points and prize money won – other than from the competition of July 26 – must be forfeited.

In the case of Le Vio and the rider Pablo Barrios, the FEI noted that since Barrios was placed well in the  individual and team competitions, the disqualification of his results would have a great impact on the results and medals.

Barrios submitted that the horse had been fed with feed at the airport, and with concentrated feed, alfalfa and hay from the event organiser on July 22 and 23, and then for the rest of the week with alfalfa, which was “a well-known source for the contamination to keep a lower level of caffeine and theophylline in the samples”.

This was because his feed and equipment was stuck in customs and had been cleared only on the morning of July 23.

The FEI submitted that since the horse tested positive on July 26 and July 29, it was highly likely the horse was positive when it competed on July 27.

“From an FEI perspective, there is no question that also these results on 27 July 2018 must be disqualified.”

Mr Arle, in his ruling, said it was important to maintain a level playing field, and he had to bear in mind the substantial prejudice to the other competitors if the results were not corrected.

“The tribunal indeed finds that it is both fair and consistent with previous findings by the tribunal to disqualify the results at this point in the proceedings, in order to allow for the medals to be re-distributed accordingly.

“Furthermore, the tribunal takes note that the event determines which teams qualify for the Pan Am Games, which in the tribunal’s view is another reason to decide on the disqualification of results – at least partially – at this point in the proceedings.”

He disqualified the combination from the competitions of July 26 and 29 – the days on which the positive test results were returned.

No ruling was made in respect of the competition result on July 27, which will be determined in the final decision, which will follow a hearing.

The FEI observed in its submission: “Given the fact that the results of at least 26 July and 29 July 2018 shall be automatically disqualified … the implications for the Venezuelan team results are that there would be no result, since there must be at least three riders to have a team, and without the Person Responsible’s results the Venezuelan team only has two riders.

“Consequently the team shall be eliminated from the ranking and there will be no results for the Venezuelan team.”

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