The FEI has announced that three Swiss Jumping horses have tested positive for prohibited substances.
Samples taken at the CSIO5* at La Baule (FRA) on 17 May from the horse Nino des Buissonnets (FEI ID FRA45550), ridden by Steve Guerdat (SUI) to win the Grand Prix on the day of testing, have returned positive for the Banned Substances Codeine and Oripavine, and the Controlled Medication substance Morphine.
Samples taken at the CSIO5* at La Baule on 16 May from the horse Nasa (FEI ID FRA45675), ridden by Steve Guerdat (SUI) to finish third in the La Baule Derby on the day of testing, have returned positive for the Banned Substance Codeine and the Controlled Medication substance Morphine. The horse’s sample also showed traces of Oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive for the substance.
Samples taken at the CSIOY (Young Riders) in Deauville (FRA) on 8 May from the horse Charivari KG (FEI ID 102ZB26), ridden by Alessandra Bichsel, have returned positive for the Banned Substances Codeine and Oripavine, and the Controlled Medication substance Morphine.
Under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs), a mandatory provisional suspension is imposed on the athlete in the event of a Banned Substance positive prior to the opportunity for a full hearing. Similarly, under the EADCMRs, a horse testing positive to a Banned Substance is provisionally suspended for two months.
As a result, Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel have both been provisionally suspended from the day of notification (20 July 2015), and the three horses have been provisionally suspended for two months. The FEI offers the athlete, referred to in the rules as the Person Responsible (PR), and the horse owner the opportunity for a preliminary hearing before the FEI Tribunal to request the lifting of the provisional suspensions.
“The presence in all these samples of Oripavine, which is not found in any veterinary products, suggests that this could be contamination, but obviously we still have to follow standard procedure”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender said.
“The combination of Oripavine, Morphine and Codeine have frequently been seen in contamination cases from other equestrian sport regulators, and the FEI already has three outstanding cases from 2014 involving Oripavine and Morphine in which we proactively sought the lifting of the provisional suspensions. As the regulator of international equestrian sport, we have to balance fairness to the athletes with our dual role of protecting horse welfare and maintaining a level playing field.”
The FEI has three ongoing 2014 cases which also involve Oripavine and Morphine*. Requests for the lifting of the provisional suspension in each case were originally denied by the Tribunal, but sufficient evidence was subsequently gathered to show that all three cases were highly likely to involve contamination and the FEI promptly sought the lifting of the provisional suspensions. All three provisional suspensions were simultaneously lifted by the FEI Tribunal on 19 December 2014.
Oripavine is an opioid analgesic that is not used clinically due to its very narrow therapeutic margin and extremely high toxicity levels. Oripavine positives are frequently the result of poppy seed ingestion. Codeine and Morphine, both of which are found in poppy seeds, are also analgesics.
Due to increasing evidence of poppy seed contamination resulting in positives, the FEI downgraded Morphine from a Banned Substance to Controlled Medication in 2013. Among a number of proposed changes to the Equine Prohibited Substances List due to come into effect on 1 January 2016, Codeine is listed for a similar downgrading to Controlled Medication.