US Federation Says it Supports “Progressive” Drug List, But Wants Delay in Implementation

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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Nov. 30–The U.S. Equestrian Federation came out in support of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) “Progressive” List of drugs for horses, but in a statement Monday called for more time before being implemented.

The new list was approved by the FEI’s General Assembly in Copenhagen last month and is to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

The so-called “Progressive” list was approved by 53 nations, with 42 against and seven abstentions. Among those voting against were Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the USA

The controversy has focused on allowances for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including 8mcg/ml of phenylbutazone in plasma and serum, 750 mcg/ml in urine and up to 6.5 mcg/ml in plasma and serum of salicilyic acid, up to 500mcg/ml in plasma/serum of flunixin and allows acetycysteine/dichloracetate and isoxuprine.

U.S. veterinarians who have spoken out in favor of the new list as against the current schedule that essentialy allows no drugs include Timothy R. Ober of Gordonsville, Virginia and Midge Leitch, a former U.S. equestrian team veterinarian who is the staff vet in radiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s world famous New Bolton center near Philadelphia.

FEI President Princess Haya has stated there would be no new vote.

The U.S, Equestrian Federation statement said:

“The USEF is supportive of the rule change allowing certain non-steroidal medications included on the “Progressive List” passed at the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen earlier this month.  The list includes medications that would be allowed in FEI competitions and which are already permitted in USEF competitions.

These medications are not considered by WADA to be performance enhancing in human athletes and because of this distinction, they are not prohibited. While it is the human athlete that is solely responsible in making the decision to use these non-performance enhancing medications, it is the responsibility of the FEI to protect and ensure the welfare of our equine partners. By placing restrictions on the use of the NSAIDs to include low level administrations and continuing a rigorous program of veterinary examinations and inspections, the FEI is providing for equine welfare while still prohibiting the non-judicious use of these and other medications consistent with the Clean Sport initiative.

“While fully supportive of this change the USEF believes that the implementation of the rule on January 1, 2010 may be problematic.

“The addition of certain NASIDs to the permitted medication list will be new to many NFs (National Federations) and an education and communication plan needs to be implemented before the rule takes effect. FEI laboratories need to adopt standard identical protocols for testing so as to assure a level playing field for all athletes throughout the world.

“The USEF is also concerned that the premature implementation of this new rule may impact team participation at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010. Without a carefully prepared education and communication program, a premature implementation of this rule is risky and has high potential of causing a series of unintended consequences.

“The USEF believe the passage of the “Progressive List” is a step forward in a commitment to horse welfare. The General Assembly of the FEI has made its decision but, we strongly encourage the FEI to delay implementation until such time that the laboratory procedures are in place and a communication and education plan has been launched.”