FEI Issues Decisions in Saudi Controlled Medication Cases

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Tribunal issued its decisions May 23 in the cases of the two Saudi Arabian show jumpers, Khaled Abdulaziz Al Eid and Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly, whose horses tested positive for controlled medication substances during competitions. The Tribunal has imposed suspensions of eight months on both riders.

The horses, Vanhoeve (Al Eid) and Lobster 43 (Sharbatly), tested positive to for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone (a metabolite of phenylbutazone) at two separate events.

Vanhoeve was sampled at the Riyadh CSI3*-W in Saudi Arabia (Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2011), and the positive finding was notified to the athlete on Feb. 2, 2012. Al Eid voluntarily suspended himself without prejudice on Feb. 24.

An adverse analytical finding for the horse Lobster 43 resulted from testing at the CSI3*-W at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates (Feb. 9-11). Sharbatly was notified of the positive test result on Feb. 24, and the athlete also put himself on a voluntary suspension, commencing on Feb. 28.

Controlled medication substances are those that are prohibited in competition, but are permitted for treatment use outside competition. The rules provide that the suspension period for controlled medication substances can be anywhere between a warning and two years.

The final hearing before the FEI Tribunal for both cases took place at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne (SUI) last month. Al Eid appeared before the Tribunal on April 18, and Sharbatly on April 19. The panel for both hearings was composed of the FEI Tribunal Chair, Prof. Dr. Jens Adolphsen (GER), Pierre Ketterer (FRA) and Randi Haukebø (NOR).

In its final decision on the Vanhoeve case, which was issued today, the Tribunal found that the Person Responsible (PR), Al Eid, failed to prove that ingestion by means of exposure to a contaminated stable environment was the likely source of the prohibited substances found in the horse's system.

While it acknowledged the importance of the Olympic Games, which had been stressed by both the PR and his counsel during the hearing, the Tribunal stated that considering the upcoming Games while determining the length of suspension would not provide a level playing field in a sports calendar that offers major events almost every year, and that rules have to be applied consistently throughout the four-year Olympic cycle.

The Tribunal imposed an eight-month suspension, effective immediately and backdated to Feb. 24, 2012, the day the PR accepted a period of voluntary provisional suspension. In addition, the Tribunal imposed a fine of CHF 1,000 (Swiss francs, about $1,054 USD) and costs of CHF 3,000 (about $3,163 USD).

In its final decision on the Lobster 43 case, which was also announced today, the Tribunal found that the PR, Sharbatly, failed to establish how the prohibited substances entered the horse's system. The Tribunal rejected the PR's theories on ingestion in a contaminated environment. The Tribunal also ruled that as phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone are not Threshold Substances, any quantity of those substances is considered a positive.

The Tribunal imposed a suspension of eight months, effective immediately and credited from the time of sample collection on Feb. 10, 2012, based on Sharbatly's timely acceptance of the rule violations. The Tribunal also imposed a fine of CHF 1,000 and costs of CHF 3,000.

The PRs have 30 days from the date of notification to appeal the findings to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (SUI).

The final decisions in the two cases can be read in full online (Vanhoeve and Lobster 43).

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