Case Decision: Olympic Horse Cöster Disqualified

The panel of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Tribunal has rendered its final decision in the prohibited substance case involving the horse Cöster ridden by Christian Ahlmann of Germany at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Ahlmann was suspended for a period of four months (120 days), which period began on the date of the application of the provisional suspension, Aug. 21, 2008, and which shall run up to Dec. 18, 2008. He was fined 2,000 CHF (Swiss francs, which converts to $1,768 U.S.) and shall also contribute 1,500 CHF ($1,289) towards the costs of the legal procedure. The proceedings in this case were assisted by Ahlmann's counsel's acceptance of procedures that speeded up the hearing and finalization of this case.

The horse and the rider are 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 its interpretation of the list of prohibited substances.

In considering the sanctions to be given to the rider in this case, the Tribunal said it took into account:

  • The fact that Ahlmann 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;
  • The fact that the ridercould not identify the source of the positive test result during the preliminary hearing, even though it should have been easily determined by him; and
  • The fact that the sources of the presence of the substance argued by the rider indicate severe negligence by using a "pain relieving" substance, including at the event, on the horse's back, without checking whether it contains any prohibited substances.

On the other hand and in mitigation, the Tribunal also considered:

  • The clean record of the rider, prior to the present case;
  • The hardship already caused to him;
  • The identification and evidence produced by Ahlamnn at the hearing regarding the source of the presence of the substance; and
  • The fact that the substance is a newly detectable substance in FEI events which is often used by riders also for legitimate therapeutic reasons.

Christian Ahlmann has 30 days to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The full text of the decision is available on the FEI Web site.

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