An Endurance rider has been suspended and fined after a blood sample from his mount tested positive for controlled medications.
LC Menta, ridden by Mohd Ahmad Mohd Ghanim Al Marri in a CEI3* 160km ride at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, on February 10 last year, tested positive for caffeine, theobromine, paraxanthine, and theophylline.
Caffeine and paraxanthine are stimulants of the central nervous system. Theobromine is a vasodilator used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Theophylline opens up airways and is used in the treatment of respiratory disease.
Caffeine can be a metabolic byproduct of theophylline. Similarly, theobromine and paraxanthine can be metabolites of caffeine.
All are classified as controlled medications under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.
The FEI Tribunal suspended Al Marri for six months, fined him 3000 Swiss francs, and ordered him to contribute 1500 francs towards the cost of the judicial procedure.
Al Marri was formally notified of the breach on March 5 last year. On May 7, the horse’s owner (who was not Al Marri) requested that the B sample be tested. However, it was too late, due to the degrading of the blood sample.
The FEI said the request for the B sample analysis should have been made promptly, as indicated in the letter originally advising of the drug breach.
Regarding the source of the substances, Al Marri submitted that the owner had been unsuccessfully investigating the source. The team, he said, never used any controlled medications on the horse during the event. They must have entered the horse’s system through feeds, or other supplements, he added.
In its submission, the FEI said the strict liability principle applied in such cases.
Without a valid Veterinary Form, a clear and unequivocal presumption arose under the rules that it was administered deliberately in an illicit attempt to enhance performance.
In the case at hand, Al Marri had not established how the substances entered the horse’s system. In such cases, it was not possible to assess the degree of fault or negligence, which meant no elimination or reduction in the suspension was possible.
Cesar Torrente, sitting as a one-member panel, noted that neither Al Marri nor the owner could explain, let alone prove, where the prohibited substances came from. Al Marri was therefore not eligible for any reduction in the applicable suspension period of six months.
He imposed the suspension and fined Al Marri.