Supplied hay at showjumping event behind two failed drug tests

POSTED ON  |  07-09-2019

Hay supplied through the organisers of a showjumping competition in Spain early this year was behind two failed drug tests in horses, the FEI Tribunal has ruled. The tribunal has released its decisions in two cases arising from the CSI2* competition held in Carmona from February 7 to 10. Slovenian rider Gaj Riossa, riding Famorku, and Finnish rider Ville Peltokoski, aboard For Fun, were found to bear no fault or negligence over their mounts testing positive for the banned substance synephrine.

Synephrine is a stimulant that causes blood vessels to constrict, increases heart rate, and is used as a weight-loss aid in humans. The circumstances of both cases were broadly the same.

The FEI and riders provided the tribunal with written agreements outlining the agreed circumstances of their cases, with the world governing body accepting that the two men were not at fault for the drugs breaches. The FEI agreed that no sanctions should be imposed against them. FEI tribunal member Cesar Torrente, sitting as a one-member panel in both cases, ratified the two agreements.

Riossa had fed hay provided through the organiser throughout the event. He said he had no choice but to buy the hay from the organiser since he was participating with 11 horses and it would have been logistically impossible to bring his own hay. The feed in question was teff hay, which is now known to potentially contain synephrine – something which was acknowledged in an FEI warning distributed via email in a veterinary update on May 13.

Riossa outlined the many procedures he had in place to ensure his horses remained drug-free. His veterinarian provided a statement saying he had never given synephrine or any similar substance to Famorku. Indeed, he did not know of any product containing synephrine or a similar product that would be used in veterinary practice. Riossa also provided an expert opinion from Professor Borut Strukelj, who said it was likely the positive tests arose due to the unintentional feeding with bitter orange leaves, or more likely mora, with the hay, composed of teff grass or common rush.

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