Drugs breach: Asking if a horse is “fine” is not enough, says tribunal

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A student who rode an unfamiliar mount in a 100km endurance ride in Qatar in April 2017 has been suspended and fined after the horse failed a drug test.

Abdul Rahman Hamad S H Juma told the FEI Tribunal that the first time he rode the horse was only a few hours before the CEI1* race in Doha.

The student, who rides only in his spare time, rode the Qatar-registered horse Next in Line Grangeway in the event. He said he had been told beforehand that the horse was fine.

The horse was selected for sampling and tested positive for acepromazine and its metabolic byproduct, hydroxyethylpromazine sulphoxide. They are tranquilisers used for sedation and dilation of blood vessels.

Both are listed as controlled medications under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.

Juma submitted a statement from the owner and trainer of the horse, Turki Misfer AL Hababi.

AL Hababi confirmed that he was responsible for the failed drug test, and stressed that Juma had not ridden or trained the horse previously.

Juma told the tribunal that he had never ridden for AL Habibi either before or after the event. He was just asked to come for the ride, was told the horse was fine, and that was all.

He explained that he was aware that horses are subject to doping control during competitions, but he did not ask whether the horse was treated or not.

Normally, he just gets told a horse is fine, and he rides them; he had never asked about doping.

When asked whether he inquired with the trainer how the prohibited substances entered the horse’s system, Juma replied that the trainer had told him it was for “cooling” purposes.

The rider said he would be more careful in the future to avoid further positive cases.

The FEI said the rider had strict liability in such cases, and a personal duty to ensure no prohibited substances entered their mount’s system.

It maintained that any rider, when not familiar with a horse they ride, should check the medication logbook of that horse in an effort to avoid drug breaches.

Tribunal member Constance Popineau, sitting as a one-member panel, acknowledged Juma’s explanation that the trainer gave the drug to the horse, and that the trainer somewhat accepted being responsible for the rule violation.

However, neither Juma nor the trainer had provided any evidence as to when the horse was given the drug, and in what quantity. Nor were any records of such administration submitted.

“Therefore, the tribunal finds that (Juma’s) explanation regarding the source cannot be seen more than a mere speculation,” Popineau said.

As a result, the tribunal ruled that Juma had not established on a balance of probability, as required under the rules, how the drug had entered the horse’s system.

Popineau noted that Juma had not checked the horse’s medication logbook, nor had he made any other inquires. He was told the horse was fine and “just came to ride the horse, that’s all”.

“In the tribunal’s view a statement that ‘the horse is fine’ could mean many things, i.e., fit to compete, healthy, or free of substances.

“Therefore, unless riders specifically ask whether a horse is free of prohibited substances, and/or request for the medication logbook to be seen, a rider cannot rely merely on an answer that the horse is fine.”

Popineau imposed a six-month suspension and fined Juma 1500 Swiss francs. He was ordered to contribute a further 1500 Swiss francs towards the costs of the legal proceedings.

One thought on “Drugs breach: Asking if a horse is “fine” is not enough, says tribunal

  • March 18, 2019 at 6:27 am
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    Wow, is it just me, or is the FEI getting stupider and stupider?

    Reply

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