The FEI has strongly criticized the routine and unsupervised use of medications by a leading UAE endurance stable during an anti doping hearing by the FEI Tribunal. A four-year ban has been imposed on trainer Abdul Kader Abdul Sattar, who has previously been suspended for a steroids offence, with rider Omar Ibrahim banned for two years. Their “often” lame Kassidy de Jansavis tested positive to Diisopropylamine during the CEI 2* 120km ride at Bou Thib, Abu Dhabi, in November 2019.

The source was Tridenosen, which is “commonly” used to relieve tying-up at Al Maghaweer Stables, along with Tripart supplement which does not contain prohibited substances.

In response to claims of a mix-up by a technician, the FEI said procedures at Al Maghaweer Stables had been demonstrated as “insufficient and erroneous.”

The FEI said: “Al Maghaweer Stables advertise themselves as ‘7-star endurance stables.’ Therefore, the FEI believed one should first and foremost ask a question why the product Tridenosen, of which [Sattar] as well as the veterinarians know contains a Prohibited Substance, is kept on the premises of such stables and apparently used routinely.

“There is not much information publicly available on the Tridenosen product itself (apart from its ingredients and recommended use). It is hard to know which company produces it and how it can be obtained.

“It is allegedly employed as some kind of supplement administered to the horses after a hard workout and/or travel to ”prevent the horses’ muscles becoming tight and cramping’. However, if a horse is often cramped, or even worse, tied-up, a question must be raised whether the horse is fit enough or suitable for a heavy workout and constant competitions and whether training methods are adequate for this horse.”

Sattar said he was “well aware” Diisopropylamine is a banned substance.

During the stables’ own investigation, it was discovered that leading up to the ride the horse was prescribed a “typical injection programme” of 20ml Tripart. Sattar said that the day before the race, grooms and the technician were in a hurry to load because there are times when trucks are not allowed on the highways. Sattar asked if the horse had received Tripart, and learned the stable supply was finished. So the technician ran to the clinic, but in haste drew up the Tridenosen. The unnamed technician said the bottles had similar-coloured stickers (which the FEI disputed) and English was not his first language.

Sattar said Tridenosen was kept in a separate part of the pharmacy as their doctors know that it contains a Prohibited Substance. Procedures have since changed: all medications given prior to competition are drawn up by a technician but must be signed off by the veterinarian in the pharmacy before the syringe is taken to the stables; no medicine may be kept in the stables. Sattar apologized and reiterated that the rider had full trust in him and the Al Maghaweer Stables training system.

Ibrahim testified by email that he understands the responsibility is on the rider, that he takes the utmost care of his horses in every race and always checks regarding the medicines and the food that the horses were given and whether they are drug-free. The FEI said these claims were unsubstantiated.

The horse’s veterinary history showed he was often lame, including both shortly before and after the ride. The FEI said this “ again puts into question” whether the horse’s well-being was “truly the central focus” of rider and trainer.

As registered trainer, Sattar was joined in the proceedings as an Additional Person Responsible. His sanction takes his prior steroids offence into account, and includes a 12,000 Swiss francs fine. Ibrahim was also fined 5,000 Swiss francs.

The attitude to medication and anti-doping rules at endurance stables in FEI Group 7 (Middle East) was also highlighted in a separate case involving strychnine, also determined by Tribunal last week.

Rider Samer Faris Mohammed Said was suspended for two years and fined 3,750 Swiss francs for a positive at the CEI1* 80km ride Wadi Rum in Jordan, also in November 2019.

Said wrote in evidence: “I was riding a horse called Bouzarika owned by a Saudi guy. The day of the race was the only time I’ve ever hopped on the saddle. I had no idea that the horse was on steroids [sic] and I had nothing to do with it.

“I do understand that the rider is responsible for his horse and his well-being. But I really do think that this action taken against me is a bit too much. Two years for only riding the horse as a paid rider. I’ve never been suspended in my life, and I will never consider doing something like this.

“I have no clue of the way the substance entered the body, because I was not there when it happened, and I have no relation with the owner other than being a first-time rider at his stables.

“To be honest I did not (check for treatment with prohibited substances) as the race was in Wadi Rum, too far from any vet I know, and as I saw the horse, I did not notice anything wrong with it. I only checked arms and legs [sic] and general check-up by myself.”

The horse’s registered trainer Khldoon Mohammed al Sayed said drinking water at the ride ran out and the “stand-by” water was used. He saw dead mice nearby. He made unsubstantiated claims – despite being given extra time to provide evidence – that the civil authorities said the water was unsuitable. He said 80% per cent of horses did not complete the ride, one horse later died, and “many horses” had to attend the hospital. He thought these sicknesses were due to the drinking water.

No other explanation for the presence of strychnine was offered.

While strychnine is nowadays associated with vermin control, it has a traditional medical use as a cardiac, respiratory and muscular stimulant.

Editor’s note: Of the 39 persons currently suspended or provisionally suspended by the FEI in connection equine doping offences, 33 are from endurance.