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Accidental contact blamed for Olympic horse's dope result

August 29, 2008

The connections of the US dressage horse Mythilus, who returned a positive test at the Olympic Games to the medication class A prohibited substance Felbinac, are baffled at the result.

On arrival in Hong Kong, Mythilus was treated at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Clinic for artrial fibrillation as a result of the stress of his trip. USEF Veterinarian Dr Rick Mitchell attended to the horse in close cooperation with the Veterinary Commission.

Courtney King and Mythilus © 2007 Terri Miller
Rider Courtney King-Dye and Dr Mitchell believe that during treatment at the clinic, he may have come in contact with Felbinac. In discussion with King-Dye, USEF vets, grooms and physical therapists, no other explanation or conclusion was able to be drawn.

Felbinac is applied topically for the relief of local pain and inflammation and belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

King placed 13th individually in the dressage competition, and was a member of the US team which placed fourth. She was officially notified on the morning of 22 August of the positive test result and the decision for provisional suspension was upheld that evening at a preliminary hearing before one member of the FEI Tribunal.

"Neither I nor my vets had ever heard of the drug Felbinac until we got the call about Myth's positive test," said King-Dye.

"We were stunned and baffled. We spent the entire day doing internet research on the uses for this drug and how it could possibly have gotten into my horse's system. As far as we could find it is not even manufactured, approved, or available in the US. My horse has had no soundness problems whatsoever, and I would have no need for an anti-inflammatory. Anyone who knows me knows whole heartedly that I would never dope my horse intentionally. It is cheating; it is not putting your best against the other's best. I have never been in a more torturous and frustrating situation; trying to prove innocence is very hard. It saddens me beyond description that my whole reputation could be blackened because of this situation."

The FEI Tribunal stated in their Preliminary Decision that "there are circumstances in this case that makes it difficult to clear out how the Prohibited Substance entered into the horse's system."

"The USEF stands behind the FEI's initiatives to rid the sport of doping and to protect the welfare of our horses," said USEF CEO John Long. "We are equally supportive of Courtney in this situation as this substance was unknown to any of us until a few days ago. It seems clear that Mythilus came into contact with it without Courtney's or Dr. Mitchell's knowledge."

Four showjumpers have also had their B samples confirmed positive.

The process will now follow the Accelerated Medication Control Procedure during and after the 2008 Olympic Games which is part of the FEI Regulations for Equestrian events at the 2008 Games (Annex G).

Evidence and written submissions have been requested from King, and a three-member panel of the FEI Tribunal has been appointed.

Final decisions will be announced before the end of the first week in October.



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