German Federation Drops Suspension of Isabell Werth, Settles for Small Fine for “Minor Violation”

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Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

MAR. 17, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The German Federation dropped the six-month suspension of Isabell Werth and on Monday imposed a small fine for “minor violations” over medication detected in El Santo NRW almost two years ago.

The decision ended a two-year battle by the 44-year-old German superstar against the harsh penalty imposed by the federation along with prejudicial statements by its leadership.

According to a decision of the federation’s arbitration panel in Warendorf the cse against Isabell was closed after she agreed to accept committing “minor violations” and paying a fine of €2,000 (US$2,785) to the German Association for Therapeutic Riding.

What was seen as a face-saving decision by the federation came after strong support for the Olympic gold medalist was voiced by some team mates and Fendt, the agricultural equipment manufacturer that sponsors German teams to the tune of €1 million (US$1.37 million) a year. Fendt is owned by AGCO, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and whose chairman, chief executive officer and president is Martin Richenhagen, a dressage rider and judge who lives in Atlanta and has both German and American citizenship.

The medication cimetidine is used to treat horses with stomach ulcers and was detected in El Santo NRW in June, 2012. The federation admitted cimetidine has no doping effect and is allowed in international sport.

In hearings on the case, expert testimony was given that the drug could have entered the watering system at Isabell’s barn from another horse, Warum Nicht, being treated with cimetidine.

In November, 2013, the five-time Olympic gold medalist was suspended for six months by the federation. The penalty was deferred while Isabell appealed.

Soon after, Isabell won an injuntion from a German court to prevent the federation’s secretary general from making public statements prejudicial to her case.

The end of the case now means Isabell can concentrate all her efforts on seeking a place on the German team for the World Equestrian Games at Normandy, France in August.

Breido Graf zu Rantzau, the German federation president, said: “It is good that the method has come within our association legal system to complete and the sport can now come to the fore again.”