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FEI anti-dopage regulations : the Rider’s extensive liability covering grooms actions

FEI ESMERALDA April 16, 2020

In this recent equine doping case, the rider participated with the horse ESMERALDA in a CDIYH organised in Moscow in 2019. Her horse was selected for testing on August 31, 2019 and the blood and urine samples collected from the horse contained 3-hydroxylidocaine which is a prohibited substance and used as a local anaesthetic and for the treatment of certain skin diseases.

After investigation, the rider found out that her groom had administered a gel which contained the 3-hydroxylidocaine to the horse’s gums after she had complained that her horse’s teeth were cutting, entailing poor contact with the snaffle. 

The rider defended herself by providing the FEI with the groom’s testimony according to which the groom confirmed that she never worked at international competitions before and had not taken into account Anti-Doping rules when administering the gel. In addition, the rider added that she herself did not have any understanding of Anti-Doping rules and would never have broken them knowingly.

By this decision, the FEI recalls its zero tolerance policy in Anti-Doping matters and the responsibility of the rider for accompanying staff and grooms:

  • The Rider’s (and the Groom’s) inexperience in international competitions (1st international event) does not relieve the Rider of her duties under the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations.
  • The Rider needs to be familiarized with the applicable FEI rules and regulations regulating participation in international competitions before entering into her first competition ;
  • The Rider needs to choose her Support Personnel wisely as any misconduct of the Support Personnel must as well be aware of the applicable rules and especially the Equine Anti-Doping and controlled medication rules and its implications.

The rider settled with the FEI and the FEI took into account the rider’s inexperience when evaluating her level of fault or negligence and accepting to sanction her with a five month ineligibility period, while waiving the fine and legal costs.  

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