Departure From Testing Protocol Is No Defense.

© file: law books

A Polish Show Jumper failed to convince the Tribunal of the Federation Equestre International (“FEI”) that the FEI’s departure from its standard testing protocol warranted dismissal of the case against him after his horse tested positive for Dexamethasone, a Controlled Medication.  The rider offered no explanation for the presence of the medication in his horse’s system and denied that he or anyone else had given the medication to the horse.  He complained that he had not been notified when his horse had been selected for testing, and that testing personnel had been confused about the identity of the “Person Responsible” when completing the sample collection paperwork, first asking his minor sister to sign, and then asking his trainer to sign as a witness to the collection and sealing after the fact.  The rider complained that his trainer was not the “Person Responsible”(“PR”), that he had not authorized his trainer to sign on his behalf and, the trainer had been asked to sign as “witness” when he had not in fact witnessed either the sample collection nor its sealing.  

The Tribunal was unconvinced and imposed a six month suspension on the rider, explaining that “departures from procedures by themselves do not invalidate the findings of the presence of a Prohibited Substance, unless such departure was such to cause genuine doubt on the reliability of such findings.  The Tribunal takes note that the PR has not contested the test results.  Furthermore, the PR has not established that the positive finding was caused by the alleged departure of the FEI Testing procedures.  The Tribunal therefore finds that the PR has not established any link between the alleged departure from the FEI Testing procedures and the positive test result and therefore holds that . . .  there would be no basis on which to invalidate the positive test results in the case at hand.”  FEI Positive Controlled Medication Case No. 2015/FT16 in re: LEON Q   (9/1/16)

Junior Endurance Rider Suspended For Drug Positives

The FEI recently imposed a six month suspension on a 15 year old Spanish endurance rider whose horse tested positive for flunixin and diclofenac, both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs classified as Controlled Medication Substances under the FEI's Equine Prohibited Substance List.  In this case, the rider did not contest the accuracy of the test results or the positive finding, and failed to submit any information or explanation to the FEI in an attempt to avoid punishment for the flunixin administration.  As to the diclofenac finding, the rider admitted that the horse had been massaged with a gel he did not realize contained diclofenac.  Finding the offense to be one of strict liability, the Tribunal imposed a six month period of ineligibility (suspension).  FEI Positive Controlled Medication Case No. 2015/CM05 in re: TRA FELIC   (10/13/16)

FEI Seemingly Accepts Rider’s Claim That DMSO Contaminated Horse With Human Medication.

A French endurance rider recently claimed that DMSO was to blame for contaminating her horse with opioid painkillers that had been prescribed to her by her physician.  According to the Tribunal’s opinion, the FEI’s expert explained that “DMSO is a liquid that has a phenomenal ability to dissolve a drug and rapidly facilitates the penetration of that drug across tissue.  Historically it has been used to get poorly soluble corticosteroids into tissues and nitrile gloves should be used when handling DMSO as the drug being applied can also be delivered to the person applying the treatment.  If the PR applied [a product containing DMSO] without using gloves then it may be possible for 2% of the dose that the PR received to enter the horse’s circulatory system. . . . the fact the product used does contain significant amounts of DMSO makes the likelihood of contact contamination a possibility.”   

The Tribunal concluded that “the PR could not have suspected or reasonably have known even with the exercise of utmost caution, that her personal human medication could be transmitted to the Horse through contact contamination by applying the gel [containing DMSO].” As the rider had been provisionally suspended for eight months by the time her case was decided by the Tribunal, it was held that the six month suspension term had been duly served.  

Curiously, despite the allegedly “significant amounts of DMSO” in the gel that was admittedly administered to the horse, there was no DMSO (a prohibited substance) detected in the sample taken from the horse.

The case is FEI Positive Anti-Doping Case No.: 2015/BS05 in re: BUENAVENTURA (9/2/16)


Write to Krysia at

Krysia Carmel Nelson, Esq. earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College and her law degree from Villanova University. In private practice, Ms. Nelson represents leading horse owners, trainers, riders, breeders, equestrian facilities, major farms, clubs and associations across all nationally and internationally recognized disciplines. A frequent speaker at industry conferences, including the National Equine Law Conference, she has taught at the Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia and during the 2012 WEF she taught "Equine Law 101."  A lifelong equestrian, she still competes regularly on the "A" show circuit in the amateur hunter divisions.

For more information, visit the website at:


No Comments Yet

Comments are closed