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Norway stripped of Olympic jumping bronze

December 23, 2008

Instead of being fought out on a dusty jumping arena, the Olympic showjumping results have been finalised in an office in Switzerland.

In the end, four lawyers could not keep the FEI from stripping Norway of its bronze team showjumping medal.

Tony Andre Hansen and Camiro in Hong Kong. © Kit Houghton/FEI
Yesterday, the world governing body for horse sport, the FEI, told Norway's pop-singer-cum-showjumper star Tony Andre Hansen that he had lost the prohibited substance case involving his horse, Camiro, and a topical pain reliever which Hansen said he had never used. In the hearing last month his team claimed that the presence of the substance could only be explained by contamination.

Hansen has been been disqualified from the Olympic Games, and suspended for four and a half months (135 days), starting from August 21 and running up to January 2. He was also fined 3000 Swiss francs ($NZ4750; $US2740) and ordered to contribute 8000 Swiss francs ($NZ12,680; $US7300) towards the legal costs.

The decision means that Switzerland will step up to the bronze medal position.

Equi-Block, which contains capsaicin, is the product at the centre of four Olympic doping cases.
The substance at the centre of the case is capsaicin, a class A prohibited substance for its pain-relieving qualities. It is classified as a doping agent banned due to its hyper-sensitising properties. It has always been prohibited, but only in the last couple of years has technology has been developed to detect it because it disappears quickly from a horse's system.

The tribunal said that Hansen's actions following the positive finding to reveal its source were not at the same level as established by other riders at the same or similar events; and that in regard to costs, Hansen had contributed to the prolonging of the case, which included "in particular, efforts to refuse acceptance of evidence argued by (Hansen's) team during the second hearing to be of vital importance."

It also said that capsaicin is not only a potent pain relieving substance, but also an agent that can be used for hypersensitisation purposes.

The FEI also noted that capsaicin had not been previously detected in the context of FEI events and is often used by riders also for legitimate therapeutic reasons.

Hansen has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The FEI panel included Philip O'Connor, Ken Lalo, and Pierre Ketterer.



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