Medication breach sees Endurance rider suspended and fined

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An endurance rider whose mount failed a drug test after a 160km contest in Muscat, Oman, has been suspended for six months and fined 3000 Swiss francs.

The FEI Tribunal also imposed costs of 3000 Swiss francs – twice that sought by the FEI – against the Oman-registered rider, Abdul Hamid Al Murad Al Balushi.

This was because Al Balushi failed to file a response in relation to the failed drug test in a case the tribunal said could have been dealt with through an administrative procedure. This would have removed the need for a formal tribunal hearing.

Al Balushi rode Esus De Maraval in a CEI3* contest on April 12 last year.

The horse was selected for sampling and a blood sample tested positive for dexamethasone, which is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effects. It is classified as a controlled medication under the FEI’s anti-doping rules.

The FEI formally notified Al Balushi through the Oman National Federation on May 25 last year.

The world governing body’s legal department started proceedings under a simplified fast-track Administrative Procedure and offered Al Balushi the chance to accept a disqualification, a fine of 1500 Swiss francs, and costs of 1000 francs.

Al Balushi did not respond to the fast-track offer, nor the original notification letter.

In March this year, the FEI provided its formal response in the case. It said the strict liability principle applied in such cases and Al Balushi had a personal duty, as the rider, to ensure the horse competed without drugs in its system.

Tribunal member Harveen Thauli, sitting as a one-member panel, noted that the tribunal received the case on June 29 this year and gave Al Balushi a further deadline to provide a written explanation. He did not do so.

She ruled that the FEI had discharged its burden in establishing the violation.

Thauli suspended Al Balushi, fined him, and imposed costs of 3000 Swiss francs.

“The tribunal orders the above costs because this matter could have been resolved efficiently and effectively under the Administrative Procedure.

“Since [Al Balushi] failed to respond to the FEI at the outset, the FEI Legal Department incurred additional costs and time to follow-up with the Person Responsible and prepare submissions to the tribunal.”

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