Four Olympic Jumpers Suspended after Prohibited Substance Found

It's stormy here in Hong Kong, and not just because of impending Typhoon Nuri, which threatened to disrupt the individual jumping final, but looks as if it will hold off for most if not all of the Aug. 21 evening competition.
Tony Andre Hansen/Camiro

Tony Andre Hansen and Camiro

About an hour before the jumping final got under way, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced that four horse/rider combinations that had qualified for the individual finals had been provisionally suspended, and therefore will not compete, because of doping/medication-control tests that indicated the presence of an illegal substance in each horse.

The suspended pairs are:

  • Tony Andre Hansen/Camiro, a member of the bronze-medal-winning Norwegian team, ranked in first place coming into the individual finals)
  • Denis Lynch/Latinus, individual competitor for Ireland, standing in eighth place
  • Bernardo Alves/Chupa Chup, individual competitor for Brazil, ranked 27th
  • Christian Ahlmann/Cöster, German team member, in 31st place going into the individual finals.

What's especially odd about these suspensions is that all four horses tested positive for the same banned substance: capsaicin, which is the ingredient that gives chili peppers their heat. It's prohibited in FEI competition because it can make a horse's skin ultra-sensitive (which, in jumping, presumably could make him extra-loath to touch an obstacle) and because it also has pain-relieving properties.

Fifteen jumpers have been selected randomly for drug testing thus far, said Paul Farrington (GBR), associate member of the FEI Veterinary Commission, including one horse from each medal-winning team.

Although capsaicin "has always been considered illegal ... the laboratories have only recently found ways to discover it," Farrington said. "The specific test was introduced two years ago. This is the first time it has been discovered in sport horses. Previously, only one case in racing has been known."

When horses are drug-tested, two samples are taken and are labeled A and B. Sample A is tested, and sample B is reserved for confirmation of any positive results. Today's suspensions follow testing of the A samples. For now, the Norwegian team gets to keep its bronze medal. For the team to be stripped of its bronze, Camiro's B sample would need to test positive (it'll soon be analyzed) and an FEI tribunal would need to hear evidence from Hansen and issue a decision to amend the official competition results.

About the Author

Jennifer O. Bryant

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation's magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site,

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