Two drug infractions arising from the abandoned Endurance race at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina last year have been dealt with by the FEI Tribunal, with fines and short suspensions imposed.
Both involved the use of medications under veterinary supervision which were given to the two horses outside FEI detection times.
The riders, Pablo De Los Heros, from Argentina, and Raimundo Undurraga Mujica, from Chile, each received two-month suspensions. Each was also fined 1500 Swiss francs, but neither was required to contribute anything toward the cost of the judicial procedures.
The two cases mirrored similar circumstances, but different drugs.
Heros competed on the horse El Pangue Ciromagnum, who subsequently tested positive for triamcinolone acetonide. The drug, listed under FEI regulations as a controlled medication, is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effects.
Mujica rode the horse Mora Inocente, who went on to test positive for dexamethasone. The drug is similarly listed as a controlled medication. It is also a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effects.
In both cases, the circumstances of the cases, and the sanctions, were agreed between the riders and the FEI in separate negotiations.
Both written agreements were put before tribunal member Cesar Torrente, who ratified the deals.
In the case of Heros, the horse had received the drug in question from a permitted treating veterinarian on September 19, 2017, and August 20, 2018, due to chronic osteoarthritis. The drug was given into both front fetlocks.
The latter treatment was 22 days before the endurance contest, which appeared to be a safe time-frame when considered against FEI detection times.
The FEI said it accepted, on the evidence provided, this treatment led to the positive test.
It stressed that a detection time is not the same as a withdrawal time.
The detection time is the approximate period of time for which a drug (or its metabolite) remains in a horse’s system, such that it can be detected by the laboratory.
The FEI provides a list of some detection times as a guide only.
“The withdrawal time for a drug must be decided upon by the treating veterinarian and is likely to be based on the detection time and an added safety margin,” it said.
“This margin should be determined using professional judgment and discretion to allow for individual differences between horses such as size, metabolism, degree of fitness, recent illness or disease, etc, to be taken into consideration.”
The safety margin in most cases should be at least multiplied by two, it suggested.
The FEI said that while it could not exonerate Heros, it felt he bore no significant fault or negligence in the case.
It noted he was an experienced endurance rider with a great competition record. He is supporter of clean sport and had treated the horse for welfare issues. He was well aware of the FEI detection times and was carefully following them.
It proposed that a two-month suspension and 1500 franc fine be imposed, which was accepted by the tribunal.
In the case of Mujica, his mount was found in his box with a swelling on the leg on the morning of September 9, three days before the race. It had most likely been caused by some trauma in the box.
Almost immediately, the horse was treated with 15ml of dexamethasone by a veterinarian.
The treatment was carefully done in order for the substance to be out of the system at the time of the horse inspection planned to take place on September 11, the day before the race.
The time at which the drug was given was outside the FEI detection time for the drug.
Since the treatment was done ahead of the event and since the horse showed no more clinical signs, no veterinary forms were necessary.
The FEI said it accepted this was how the drug entered the horse’s system. However, it again stressed that the detection times given were a guide only, and an additional safety margin should sensibly be applied.
It accepted that Mujica had shown he bore no significant fault or negligence in the case.
The world governing body again recommended a two-month suspension and 1500 franc fine.
Mujica similarly had a great competition record and was a supporter of clean sport. The horse was being treated for welfare issues, due to minor swelling.
“He is well aware of the FEI detection times and was carefully following such detection times. He is also aware that detection times may vary from horse to horse and tried to have a prudent time frame to the start of the event, namely the horse inspection.
“Due to the troubles at WEG such as the difficulties in the quarantine and the disorganisation at arrival, [he made] the best of the situation.”