FEI Position on Continuing Legal Battle Over Newly Crowned USA Champion Horses Horizon & Don Principe
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May 22, 2017
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
A day after two of the three United States championships were won by horses able to compete only after a last-minute successful challenge cutting short a two-month suspension, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) confirmed Monday it is seeking to uphold its “paramount interest” of imposing penalties for drug offenses.
The FEI made clear it is up to the United States Equestrian Federation to decide on the status of the national championships no matter the outcome of legal proceedings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport CAS) based in Lausanne, Switzerland that lifted suspensions of Horizon ridden by Adrienne Lyle and Don Principe ridden by Kaitlin Blythe so they could compete in the Dutta Corp. Festival of Champions.
Horizon ridden by Adrienne of Ketchum, Idaho won the Intermediate 1 championship while the Brentina Cup Under-25 championship was won by Don Principe ridden by Kaitlin Blythe of Rougemont, North Carolina.
“It is important to know,” an FEI spokesperson said in response to questions from dressage-news.com, “the two horses, Horizon and Don Principe, were both competing at national competitions, hence under US Equestrian jurisdiction.
“The owners/riders of the horses challenged the two-month provisional suspension of the horses at CAS. The FEI is therefore not challenging the suspensions at CAS, but only defending its paramount interests; to safeguard the welfare of our equine athletes and the level playing field.
“The FEI is not able to comment further at this point in time, until the final CAS decision is received. US Equestrian will then determine its position as to whether the national title result remains.”
Both horses were suspended for two months, an automatic penalty under FEI rules, from April 5 after traces of a prohibited substance were detected by drug testing during an Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI in Wellington, Florida. Extensive testing by the manufacturer of products given to the horses found trace amounts of the prohibited substance, which the producer accepted responsibility.
The FEI lifted suspension of the two riders but maintained the penalty on Horizon and Don Principe.
An appeal then filed with CAS by Sam Silver, the Philadelphia attorney who represented the owners and riders, was successful with a preliminary decision that allowed the horses to compete at the U.S. championships in Gladstone, New Jersey.
The U.S. federation backed the owners and rider and, along with the horses’ connections, made clear support of anti-doping measures while indicating the need for flexibility in cases such as this.
Lifting of the suspension by CAS meant only about half of the penalty of two months was fulfilled.
Questions were raised during the final day of the championships on Sunday about whether the championship results for Horizon and Don Principe would stand. Although the competition was national and not FEI as a member of the international body the U.S. abides by their rulings–Horizon and Don Principe would not have been allowed to compete at Gladstone if the suspensions had not been lifted.