Isabell Werth Suspended For 6 Months For Drug in El Santo

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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

Isabell Werth on Tuesday was suspended from competition for six months for a banned substance found in El Santo NRW, the second suspension in four years for Germany’s most successful equestrian.

The 44-year-old rider was found by the First Chamber of the Disciplinary Commission of the German Equestrian Federation (FN ) to have allowed “a negligent breach of duty of care in the stable” where El Santo, a 12-year-old Rhinelander gelding, was found to have apparently ingested the drug cimetidine that is typically used for stomach disorders.

The ban from competing in both domestic and foreign competitions would keep Isabell from the winter World Cup series if it begins immediately.

But Isabell said she will appeal and, if unsuccessful, that could prevent her seeking to qualify for a German team to go to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in September, 2014.

The five-time Olympic dressage gold medalist was suspended in June 2009 for a positive test in the small tour horse Whisper after the drug fluphenazin was found in the horse. The drug is normally used as an antipsychotic for humans with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but a side effect is sedation.  As a result, she missed out on competing in the European Championships that same year.

The latest case began at the Rhineland Championships in Langenfeld 2012 when El Santo NRW was tested as part of routine medication sedative-meds.com. The analysis revealed the presence of cimetidine a substance banned at national sports competitions but does not fall under doping.

The federation said in a statement announcing the suspension that “after extensive investigation of all the circumstances,” the chamber believed that the cimetidine contamination of El Santo was “through the bars” of the stable where El Santo was in a stall next to a horse being treated for with the medication.

“This constitutes a breach of duty of care in the organization of their stable operation for which the rider is responsible,” it said.

“The alternative claim that cimetidine had come over the failure of the circulating watering system… is extremely unlikely in the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee,” it said.

In addition to the six-month suspension, Isabell was ordered to bear the costs of the procedures and pay a fine of €2,000 (US$2,700).

Isabell rode El Santo in Vienna two months ago after the horse was out of international competition for a year.

The rider is ranked No. 7 in the world on Don Johnson FRH but 394th on El Santo because of a lack of competitions over the past year.

In the latest update on her Internet site, Isabell reported on competing with El Santo at Nürnberg, Germany last weekend, winning both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.

On Lezard, she also won the qualifier for the Nürnburger Burgpokal final in Frankfurt next month. The Burgpokal is Germany’s premier series at Prix St. Georges.