FEI Veterinary Meetings

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) held its annual veterinary meetings in Helsinki, Finland, from Feb. 3-6. The FEI Veterinary Committee has the overall responsibility for the management and surveillance of the veterinary aspects of international equestrian sport. In addition to specific veterinary issues and surveillance of welfare, the Committee has to undertake the major role in medication control to prevent doping during competition. The Committee is supported in this effort by an active Medication Subcommittee and by the Veterinary Department at FEI, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Frits Sluyter, DVM, head of the FEI Veterinary Department, has organized a successful medication control program in Europe. It consists of sending 25 specially trained Testing Veterinarians from 15 countries to events all over Europe. Around 1,000 samples are collected by these veterinarians and sent for analysis to a Central FEI Analytical Laboratory. Advice on positive samples (on average, 2.5%) is received from the Medical Subcommittee before cases are turned over to the Legal Department and the Judicial Committee to consider appropriate sanctions.

At the recent meeting, Testing Veterinarians (including John Lengel, DVM, of the American Horse Shows Association) met to discuss the latest developments in medication testing. Then they met with the Medication Subcommittee to discuss problem areas and suggest ideas for the future. The Medication Subcommittee met prior to joining the Veterinary Committee to review the future strategy of medication control in the FEI. The current program has been running for 10 years, and officials agreed that some improvements and expansion should be considered. Medication control in equestrian sport is different from that in racing in that a certain amount of medication is allowed on welfare grounds (i.e., gastric ulcer medication). Ultimately, it is for the Veterinary Committee to decide on future policy based on the advice of the Medication Subcommittee and input from the Testing Veterinarians.

Finally, the Veterinary Committee discussed a full agenda of topics, including a thorough revision of the Veterinary Regulations and the standardization of Horse Inspections between disciplines. Future events were discussed, including the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, in 2002 and the next Olympics in Athens, Greece, as well as the future of eventing in the FEI.

The four days of intense discussion and debate were crucial for successful progression of veterinary and medication aspects of the FEI.

About the Author

Leo Jeffcott, BVetMed, PhD, FRCVS, DVSc, MA, DSc

Professor Leo Jeffcott, BVetMed, PhD, FRCVS, DVSc, MA, VetMedDr (h.c.) has been an official FEI Event Veterinarian since 1977, and has officiated at many elite championships including 4 World Equestrian Games. He has been an official veterinarian at the last 6 Olympic Games (1988-2008). He was President of the Veterinary Commission at Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004), and has been Veterinary Technical Delegate at Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). Professor Jeffcott was elected Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee and member of the Bureau in 1998, and served until 2006. He was then made an Honorary Member of the Bureau, and was the first veterinarian to receive that honour. He held the post of Dean at the Veterinary School in the University of Cambridge (1991-2004) and then at the University of Sydney (2004-2009).

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