An Endurance competitor who rides as a hobby has been fined 2000 Swiss francs and suspended for six months after her horse tested positive for anti-inflammatory medications.
The Argentina-registered rider, Maria Soledad Jaraba, told the FEI Tribunal that her horse, Lady Ramona, had been stabled at a friend’s property more than 2000km from her home, and that the horse had been medicated without her knowledge by a staff member at the property.
Jaraba had competed the horse in a CEI 1* event in Toay, La Pampa, late in October last year.
The horse subsequently tested positive for phenylbutazone, oxyphenbutazone and dexamethasone.
Phenylbutazone is an anti-inflammatory drug with painkilling effects and oxyphenbutazone is a metabolic byproduct of the drug. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effects.
All are classified as controlled medications under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.
Jaraba explained that Lady Ramona had not been under her care in the three months leading up to the event.
The horse had been stabled at a friend’s property in Mar del Plata, about 2040km from where she lived.
She did this because FEI races were usually held in the centre of the country, and she would otherwise need at least 10 days on trips between transfer, rest and return of the horse.
Jaraba told tribunal member Constance Popineau that staff at the establishment had received clear instructions not to provide any treatment or medication to the horse without her consent.
Following the positive finding, she returned Lady Ramona under her personal care and under the direct observation of her veterinarian.
She was later told that a person working at her friend’s stables had ridden Lady Ramona, who got hurt. This person decided to give the drugs without telling anyone.
Jaraba said she felt she could not demand that her friend reveal the identity of his employee.
Jaraba told the tribunal that she rode Endurance as a hobby, investing her free time and spare money on her horses. She had no vested interest in winning at any cost to sell her horses.
She noted that she had not been offered the option of an administrative procedure, which would have removed the need for the tribunal case.
The rider pointed to the economic problems in Argentina and argued that if the “standard” fines and legal costs were imposed, they would be disproportionate in the case at hand.
The FEI, in its submission, said Jaraba had a duty of care to ensure she competed the horse without drugs in her horse’s system. In the case at hand, she had not established how the drugs entered Lady Ramona’s system, it submitted.
The FEI added that the rider had not been eligible for the administrative procedure, as it applied only when there was no more than one controlled medication detected.
Popineau, in her decision, said she took note of Jaraba’s explanation that a staff member at the stables had given Lady Ramona the drugs without her knowledge.
However, Jaraba had not provided any evidence to support her explanation. She had therefore not met her burden of proof in establishing how the medications entered Lady Ramona’s system.
In the circumstances, and taking into account financial circumstances, a fine of 2000 Swiss francs and a six-month suspension were appropriate, she ruled. Jaraba was not ordered to pay anything towards the cost of the judicial procedure.