A showjumper in the United Arab Emirates has been banned for 24 months and fined 6500 Swiss francs over a positive drug test in a horse entered in an event in Abu Dhabi.
The FEI Tribunal decided to suspend two months of the ban because of the substantial assistance the seasoned rider, Mohammed Ahmed Al Owais, gave in the case.
It also ordered him to contribute 3000 francs towards the cost of the proceedings.
Al Owais competed the horse Tina La Boheme in the CSI2* at Abu Dhabi in mid-February last year.
The horse subsequently tested positive for diisopropylamine, a vasodilator used in the treatment of peripheral and cerebral vascular disorders. It is classified as a banned substance under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.
Al Owais told the tribunal he had been involved in international jumping for more than 20 years. Since 2010 he had competed in 505 jumping events, with a total of 10 wins.
Since 2012, he had been sponsored by Al Shira’aa Stables, with stables in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and in Surrey, England. He was typically given three or four competition horses to work with, and he had worked with his allocated groom, Mohammed Othman, for about 15 years.
In addition, he also owned his own stables, where in total nine horses were stabled.
He outlined in detail the drug-purchasing and administration procedures at the stable. Other than essential medication, drugs were purchased only if prescribed by a veterinarian.
He told tribunal members Laurent Niddam, Cesar Torrente and Constance Popineau that the positive drug test arose through the use of a product called Tridenosen, injected by Othman a few days before the event.
The product lists di-isopropylamine dichloroacetate as an ingredient, which he now understood was the same substance as diisopropylamine.
He explained that he had been introduced to Tridenosen by a vet more than 10 years ago, and was recommended the product to be used to assist with alleviating cramping in horses participating in multi-day competitions.
He said he had been using the product since 2008, before the substance was included on the FEI List.
Indeed, the use of the product had become usual procedure for him.
Al Owais asserted that his fault or negligence was minor in the circumstances. He had started using the product on the recommendation of a trusted veterinarian. It was produced by a trusted brand and he had understood the product was safe for use in competition horses.
He said he could not have identified that the product contained a prohibited substance via the FEI database due to the alternative spelling of “di-isopropylamine dichloroacetate”.
He asked that his suspension be limited to a maximum of 12 months.
The FEI, in its submission, said the strict liability principle applied in such cases and Al Owais had a duty of care to ensure no prohibited substances entered the horse’s body.
It said it ascertained that Al Owais had never checked the substance himself on the FEI List, neither when he first used it, nor did he double-check it from year to year when the FEI’s drug list was updated.
Tridenosen, it added, clearly stated its ingredients, one of which is di-isopropylamine dichloroacetate.
The FEI found it very negligent not to verify such an ingredient appropriately before the use of it on a competition horse.
Furthermore, it disagreed that the substance was allowed in 2008, when Al Owais allegedly started using the product. Back then, the FEI’s drug list not exhaustive; it was rather a list comprising different groups of prohibited substances. It argued that the drug in question would have been grouped under “antipsychotic, anti-epileptic and antihypertensive substances”.
“Diisopropylamine was not a newly added substance … but a banned substance that (Al Owais) had used on his horses for over eight years, without double-checking on a regular annual basis neither with his veterinarian nor on the FEI database.”
The FEI considered this was highly negligent.
The tribunal agreed that it was highly negligent to use such a product for so long without checking its ingredients.
It then imposed the suspension and fine.