Groom’s pee in stable led to horse’s drug violation at Nations Cup final

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A male groom who urinated in a horse’s stable was behind a failed drug test in a showjumping horse at the FEI Nations Cup jumping final in Barcelona last October, the FEI Tribunal has found.

The groom explained that he relieved himself in the stable because of the distance to the toilets.

Canadian rider Mario Deslauriers was cleared of any wrongdoing over the failed test by the US-registered horse Bardolina 2.

The FEI accepted the explanation from Deslauriers and agreed that he bore no fault or negligence over the drug breach – a crucial step in the rider being exonerated.

However, the disqualification of the horse’s results from the event remains.

Henrik Arle, sitting as a one-member tribunal panel, released his decision in the case this week, ratifying the agreement between Deslauriers and the FEI over the circumstances around Bardolina 2’s positive blood and urine tests for O-Desmethylvenlafaxine – a banned substance under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.

It emerged that Deslauriers’ male groom had been prescribed the antidepressant Venlafaxine by his personal doctor, and had been taking one tablet a day for the past five years.

The groom had been working for the Deslauriers for all of that time, and their horses had been tested numerous times, always with clean results.

The groom had not told Deslauriers he was taking the medication.

Due to the distance between the stables and the toilets at the event, the groom urinated in the stables of Bardolina 2, which was something that to his knowledge was a regular practice for most male grooms, riders and trainers.

Expert evidence was produced that, within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, it could have led to the positive finding at the concentrations found in the horse.

The FEI, which also took expert advice on the matter, accepted that the explanation plausibly explained how the O-Desmethylvenlafaxine entered the horse’s system – that is, via human contamination caused by the groom urinating in the stables.

It accepted that Deslauriers bore no fault or negligence for the violation, and that no suspension, nor any fines or costs, were warranted.

The parties agreed that the results of Deslauriers and the horse should be subtracted from the team results.

Deslauriers did not contest the provisional suspension imposed on his mount, which remained in place until December 30 last year.

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