The rider and trainer of an endurance horse have both been suspended for 12 months after it tested positive to seven controlled medications at the showcase Al Ula CEI2* event in Saudi Arabia last year.
Al Ula was intended to promote Saudi endurance to a wider public ‒ the kingdom is bidding to stage the 2022 world endurance championships.
Seven of 30 horses selected for sampling on February 2, 2019 ‒ a record at any FEI event ‒ tested positive; this was the first of these cases to be finalised by the FEI Tribunal.
The horse Alrahawi tested positive to Phenylbutazone and its metabolite Oxyphenbutazone, Flunixin, Meloxicam and Dexamethasone (all anti-inflammatories with analgesic effects) plus Lidocaine and its metabolite Hydroxylidocaine (local anaesthetics also used for the treatment of certain skin diseases.) His FEI record shows Alrahawi was vetted out at the first gate for lameness.
Rider Abdulelah Alonaizi was unaware of any “material given to the horse before the tournament, as I was contacted by the owner to ride this horse in the race without knowing any details.” After learning of the positives, he contacted the owner and trainer and was informed there had been a “time period sufficient for the exit of drugs from the body of the horse.” Other than co-signing the rider’s statement, accused trainer Alyazeed Al Dawood offered no explanation.
The FEI highlighted that the “cocktail” of so many substances “indicated several medical conditions” that would render the horse “absolutely unfit to compete.” It added: “Further, it was a well-known fact that removing the very fundamental protective function of sensitivity of a horse by practices such as local or regional injections of anaesthetic substances will increase the risk of catastrophic injury. This was especially relevant for fractures that are due to bone fatigue (stress fractures) where the horse will not show any signs of pain such as lameness while under the influence of the injected substance.”
Both rider and trainer were additionally fined 3,500 Swiss francs each. Their suspensions were credited against time already served when provisional suspensions were applied last spring.
At the start of 2019, the FEI began automatically suspending endurance trainers when horses in their care tested positive. Prior to that, there was discretion over prosecuting trainers alongside the rider. One such case, a steroids offence from January 2018, was also recently settled, with Qatari trainer Hassan Khamis Mohammed A Al Shahwani suspended for 22 months after Sohair des Bruyere tested positive to testosterone in a CEI2* at Doha.
Al Shahwani said he had only been a trainer for three years, so did “not know much about medicines and such.” He “made the mistake” of listening to a vet from Dubai who sent him some testosterone, saying “it was doping for only seven days and that it can be used in training and stop in time for the competition.”
Al Shahwani admitted his horses were all injected with 0.5 ml of testosterone every seven days. He only learned later that it was prohibited at all times, was worried about other horses given the same treatment and withdrew them from upcoming events.
The FEI said that while the trainer was “highly at fault,” he had promptly admitted the violation and to using testosterone on other horses. For this reason he was granted a two-month reduction off the usual minimum two-years for a banned substances offence.
However “this is a very serious violation especially since testosterone is an anabolic steroid not only prohibited at all times under the FEI rules, but also prohibited by law in many countries. This is something that each and every active person in equestrian sport must know.
“For the trainer to ignore this fact and to not check with other veterinarians or look at the FEI Clean Sport app before administration of such substance is to be truly at fault and highly negligent. The FEI believes that the trainer has learned a lesson.”
The Russian rider who borrowed the horse for the Doha ride, Elizaveta Minina, was suspended for 20 months in an earlier decision.