Tribunal Reaches Decision in Alves Olympic Medication Case

The panel of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Tribunal has rendered its final decision in the prohibited substance case involving the horse Chupa Chup ridden by Bernardo Alves of Brazil at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Alves has been suspended for three and a half months (105 days). The suspension is considered to have begun Aug. 21, when his provisional suspension was first enacted. It will therefore run until Dec. 3. He was also fined CHF 1,750 (Swiss francs, which converts to $1,569 USD). The horse and the rider were disqualified from the entire Olympic Games.

In reaching its conclusion the Tribunal concluded the substance at issue--capsaicin--was a "Medication Class A" rather than a "Doping" substance, based on their interpretation of the list of prohibited substances.

In considering the sanctions to be given to Alves in this case, the Tribunal considered:

  • the fact that the rider is an experienced sportsman and that the behavior of anyone at the top of the sport and particularly at the Olympic Games must be faultless since the eyes of the world focus on performances at such events;
  • the nature of the substance involved, which is not only a pain relieving substance, but also an agent that can be used for hypersensitization purposes;
  • and the fact that the sources of the presence of the substance argued by the rider indicate severe negligence on the rider's part by using a "pain relieving" substance, including at the event, on the fetlocks of the horse's forelegs, without checking whether it contains any prohibited substances.

On the other hand, the Tribunal also considered:

  • the fact that there have been no "maintained" cases by the FEI against Alves, prior to the present case;
  • the identification and evidence produced by the rider, as early as during the preliminary hearing, regarding the sources of the presence of the substance;
  • and the substance is a newly detectable substance which is often used by riders also for legitimate therapeutic reasons.

Alves has 30 days to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The full text of the decision is available on the FEI Web site.

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