USEF Issues Statement on FEI Drug Guidelines

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) today issued a statement on new Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations passed by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) General Assembly Nov. 19. The passed regulations included a "progressive list" of substances that will now be allowed in competition in limited amounts, including phenylbutazone, flunixin, and salicylic acid.

The USEF statement follows.

The USEF is supportive of the rule change allowing certain non-steroidal medications included on the "Progressive List" passed at the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen earlier this month. The list includes medications that would be allowed in FEI competitions and which are already permitted in USEF competitions.

These medications are not considered by [the World Anti-Doping Agency] to be performance-enhancing in human athletes and because of this distinction, they are not prohibited. While it is the human athlete that is solely responsible in making the decision to use these non-performance enhancing medications, it is the responsibility of the FEI to protect and ensure the welfare of our equine partners. By placing restrictions on the use of the NSAIDs to include low level administrations and continuing a rigorous program of veterinary examinations and inspections, the FEI is providing for equine welfare while still prohibiting the non-judicious use of these and other medications consistent with the Clean Sport initiative.

While fully supportive of this change, the USEF believes that the implementation of the rule on January 1, 2010 may be problematic.

The addition of certain NASIDs to the permitted medication list will be new to many [National Federations] and an education and communication plan needs to be implemented before the rule takes effect. FEI laboratories need to adopt standard identical protocols for testing so as to assure a level playing field for all athletes throughout the world.

The USEF is also concerned that the premature implementation of this new rule may impact team participation at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010. Without a carefully prepared education and communication program, a premature implementation of this rule is risky and has high potential of causing a series of unintended consequences.

The USEF believe the passage of the "Progressive List" is a step forward in a commitment to horse welfare. The General Assembly of the FEI has made its decision but, we strongly encourage the FEI to delay implementation until such time that the laboratory procedures are in place and a communication and education plan has been launched.

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