Olympic Games - 29th August, 2008 - Drugs Cases Update
Overview and pictures by Berni Saunders
In a statement issued on the 26th August, 2008, the FEI have advised that the USA Dressage Team horse Mythilus has returned a positive test to a prohibited substance. This is a blow for the Dressage fraternity who have been very proud of their record in Athens and Beijing.
Here is the news item.
The FEI communicates an additional doping/medication case at the 2008 Olympic Games concerning Courtney King (USA) and Mythilus, who tested positive for the banned substance Felbinac, considered a «medication class A» prohibited substance. Felbinac is applied topically for the relief of local pain and inflammation and belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Courtney King, who placed 13th individually in the Dressage competition, was officially notified on the morning of 22 August of the positive test result and the decision for provisional suspension was upheld that evening at a preliminary hearing before one member of the FEI Tribunal.
Courtney King (USA) and Mythilus
Given that the Dressage events of the 2008 Olympic Games ended on 19 August it was decided to wait until the confirmatory B analysis prior to any public announcement of the findings. The FEI has now received confirmation of the initial finding from the analysis of the B sample.
Update on the cases involving 4 Showjumping horses.
There are 4 cases involving showjumping horses tested at the Olympic Games and the FEI has received confirmation that the B samples for the four cases involving the presence of the banned substance capsaicin have all yielded positive test results, thus confirming the initial positive findings from the A samples.
Bernardo Alves (BRA) Chupa Chup
Christian Ahlmann (GER) Cöster
Denis Lynch (IRL) Latinus
Tony Andre Hansen (NOR) Camiro
An update will be provided by the FEI following the hearings (8 September) and final decisions will be announced prior to the end of the first week in October, provided the hearings can be held as scheduled. However, these deadlines are indicative timelines, and may be affected by specific circumstances as with any legal proceeding.
The competition results will be amended as indicated in the Tribunal’s final decision.
This is bad news for the entire international equestrian community. With huge pressure on the sport to be drug free and accident free, these findings taint what otherwise was a very successful competition that was hailed by H.R.H. Princess Haya, the President of the FEI (pictured right), as "The Olympic Games result that we needed to have!"
Having attended Press Conferences following the initial findings with Showjumping horses, it is clear that the FEI's upgraded testing procedures are now so sensitive that many basic horse care products which have been in everyday use for many riders are now likely to test positive to one or some of the many prohibited substances which until now have gone undetected.
In the case of Denis Lynch (IRL) (pictured right) and the positive test on his horse Latinus, Dennis was using an 'off the shelf" product called Equiblok which although disclosing that it contains the ingredient Capsaicum - the product label also states that it will not test positive. This misleading and untrue statement seems to have given Denis Lynch the confidence to use Equiblock on his horse's back (in the same way that "Deepheat" would be used) for a prolonged period and he took great confidence from the fact that previous drugs tests that the horse had been subjected to in his Olympic selection campaign, had not returned a positive result. Denis Lynch presented Latinus for the discretionary Drugs test upon arrival in Hong Kong and before the competition began - this test was negative.
It seems that Denis was completely guided by the assurances made on product label and did not discuss the use of Equiblok (Equiblok tub pictured right. See the lighter yellow notation on the label, below the word "original" as this is where the manufacturer gives assurance that this product "will not test positive") with his vet, Marcus Swaid. Dennis Lynch was devastated that he was acting in sincere good faith and "begged the FEI to allow him to ride in the Showjumping Final" but they stood steadfast to their commitment to impose immediate disqualification to any horse involved in drugs testing and the A sample returns a positive result.