Isabell Werth Suspended for Six Months for Doping

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Isabell Werth. © 2009 Ken Braddick/
Isabell Werth. © 2009 Ken Braddick/

RHEINBERG, Germany, Sept. 7–Isabell Werth, Germany’s top Olympic rider, has been ssuspended for six months for the use of a banned substance on a small tour horse last May.

Werth, 40, said she had been informed of the FEI Tribunal’s decision suspending her until Dec. 22 for the use of the drug Modecate that contains the banned substance Fluphenazine on the horse, Whsiper, that suffers from Shivering Syndrome.

Werth said, “I am very glad that the waiting is now at an end, and accept the decision of the FEI tribunal even if it hurts very much.”

She is pregnant and announced in June that she would not ride until after the birth of the baby, expected in November.

She said that a decision when she would return to competition “is still open.”

The German Federation that has adopted a tough stand in doping cases said, “The case is classed as a doping, this also corresponds to our understanding, so that we accept the judgment.“

In addition to the suspension, Werth was fined 3,500 Swiss francs (US$3,313).

Although the quantity of the substance detected in the horse would not affect its pertformance, the length of her suspension was more severe than that imposed on five jumper riders and one dressage competitor whose horses were found to have traces of banned substances at the 2008 Olympics.

Werth detailed the use of the drug and apologized both in writing and before an audience on a German television program.

“I would like to thank my family, my patron Madeleine Winter Schulz and my friends,” she said. “They have come through the last weeks with me and have supported me splendidly.

“However, I would also like to thank my business partners, sponsors and all the people who do not doubt integrity, but habe given me courage and strength by numerous phone calls, letters and emails.”

She asked for privacy while awaiting the birth of her child.

The case arose when she asked her veterinarian Dr. Hans Stihl if and how Whisper’s Shivering Syndrome could be treated.

She said that Whisper was treated once, on May 16, 2009. The shivering was reduced, and there was less uncontrolled movement when one of his legs was raised.

Werth said that Dr. Stihl told me that his experience indicated six days were enough for the drug to leave the horse’s system but that time was not certain.

So, to be on the safe side,” she aaid, “we decided to let Whisper compete again on May 30, 2009 in Wiesbaden. I took this decision to the best of my knowledge. In spite of this, the FEI doping lab… found traces of said substance. One reason may be that the lab has used new analyzing methods.”