Updates from the Olympic Drug Cases

A Norwegian jumper's positive doping test for capsaicin proved hotter than rider Tony Andre Hansen could handle: It caused him and mount Camiro to be disqualified from the 2008 Olympic Games, thereby stripping Norway of its team bronze medal--that nation's first-ever Olympic jumping team medal.

A Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Tribunal rendered the decision Dec. 22, 2008. The Tribunal also suspended Hansen from FEI competition for 135 days, beginning the day of Camiro's positive doping test and ending Jan. 2, 2009.

FEI procedures gave Hansen 30 days to appeal the Tribunal's decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Hansen filed his appeal January 15, 2009.

Capsaicin 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. Although capsaicin has always been considered illegal, laboratories have only recently found ways to test for it in sport horses.

Hansen's alleged offense, suspension, and appeal follow in the hoofprints of Germany's Christian Ahlmann and Cöster, who tested positive for the same substance as Camiro. Ahlmann, like Hansen, is appealing the Tribunal's final decision.

Two other 2008 Olympic jumping competitors, Denis Lynch of Ireland and Bernardo Alves of Brazil, also were suspended after Lynch's mount, Lantinus 3; and Alves' mount, Chupa Chup, also tested positive for capsaicin. Lynch and Alves both have appealed their preliminary Tribunal decisions; final decisions in their cases have not yet been reached.

"The cases are still pending and it is the FEI's policy not to comment on pending cases," said FEI communications manager Malina Gueorguiev. "It usually takes the CAS four months to hear a case."

Philip O'Connor, of Dublin, Ireland, a member of the FEI Tribunal and chairman of the three-man panel that rendered the final decision in Hansen's case, did not respond to a request for comment.

According to Gueorguiev, the FEI is reviewing its anti-doping and medication-control policy. "Work has just begun and will take most of the year. We will be sending out regular updates and are considering organizing an event for the media at the end of June/beginning of July."

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, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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