Norwegian Rider Disqualified from Beijing Olympics

Norwegian equestrian Tony Andre Hansen and his 2008 Olympic mount, Camiro, have been definitively disqualified from the Beijing Olympics for a medication offense. The disqualification followed an appeals commission decision handed down Dec. 4.

Hansen's appeal of the 2008 ruling of the Fédération Equestre International (FEI) was dismissed last Friday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and all previous sanctions were upheld. Hansen and Camiro's scores from individual and team events have been removed from the final tallies, dropping the Norwegian show jumping team from third to eighth place. The bronze medal and related points and prize money must be forfeited, according to the FEI.

The new final ranking of team show jumping of the 2008 Olympics is as follows:

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Switzerland
  4. The Netherlands
  5. Great Britain
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. Norway
  9. Germany

Furthermore, Hansen's 135-day suspension was maintained, and he was ordered to pay 6,000 Swiss francs (roughly $15,630) to compensate the FEI for legal expenses. This is in addition to the 11,000 Swiss francs (about $10,750) originally demanded by the FEI Tribunal in December 2008.

Hansen based his appeal on claims that he had no knowledge of how Camiro could have been administered capsaicin, even though the horse tested positive twice for the drug from the same urine specimen. He theorized that the horse or the urine specimen might have been contaminated. 

However, the CAS ruled that proper procedures appeared to have been followed for specimen collection and that it was "immaterial" how Camiro might have ingested the substance, the decision statement reported. The CAS noted that what matters is that the horse was clearly positive for the drug at the time of the competition.

Capsaicin is a readily available plant-based medication which causes initial hypersensitivity followed by several hours of analgesic effects, according to Marc Gogny, DVM, PhD, head of the department of pharmacology and toxicology of the National Veterinary School of Nantes, France, and expert witness in the case. "It is commercially available as a topical therapeutic to treat muscular problems or tendonitis," he said. "But it's also a highly effective soring agent and pain reliever. As such it must absolutely be excluded from all equestrian events, for fairness and for the well-being of the horses."

The CAS decision in the Hansen case underlines the fact that even nonprescription natural products such as capsaicin can be detected in drug tests and will lead to appropriate sanctions by governing bodies, Gogny said.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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