The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Bureau has passed a resolution delaying implementation of the new Equine Prohibited Substances List and the accompanying Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations until April 5, 2010.

The resolution was passed in order to allow for broader debate and consultation on the policy change approved at the recent FEI General Assembly regarding the restricted use of a small number of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The decision, which reversed the 1993 ban on phenylbutazone, has provoked considerable debate among FEI stakeholders.

The FEI recognizes that a number of issues arise as a result of this policy change, which was voted in by a majority of 53-48 at the meeting in Copenhagen on Nov. 19.

The change in policy will affect National Federations and organizers who must comply with state laws as well as international competition rules. It has implications for the breeding industry and the selection of horses and might impact animal welfare concerns. It also affects the laboratories involved in the testing procedures.

The FEI acknowledges that these concerns are all legitimate and recognizes a need for further debate on the issue. The delayed implementation of the new regulations will also allow for supplementary research to be carried out on the use of NSAIDs in the competition horse.

"The FEI has been criticized for not providing sufficient time for consultation on the substances that differentiate the new policy from the old and there has also been widespread unease about the late publication of the progressive list," said FEI President HRH Princess Haya. "Views that have been expressed since the vote are being taken extremely seriously by the FEI as legitimate welfare concerns and we give similar importance to our membership's decision to effect a policy change. In light of both these considerations, we felt it was only fair to delay implementation of the new list to allow everyone to have their say and let other veterinary experts look at the science behind this policy change."

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