FEI Issues Drug Warning About Humans Urinating in Horse Stalls

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Sept. 4, 2020

The International Equestrian Federation has issued a warning about risk of drug contamination in horses from the not uncommon practice of humans urinating in horse stalls.

The warning was sent to national federations following a case involving Italian dressage rider Pierluigi Sangiorgi whose horse Gelo Delle Schiave was found by official drug testing at Lipica, Slovenia in May 2019 to be positive for the banned substance Aripiprazole. The 2004 Olympian and 2010 and 2018 World Equestrian Games rider challenged the prospect of a two-year ban.

The rider challenged the finding on the grounds that his groom was taking a drug prescribed by a doctor that contained Aripipazole. Over several days at the show grounds the groom urinated in the stall, without the knowledge of the rider.

Cesar Torrente heard the appeal to the FEI Tribunal and in a decision ruled the athlete bore no fault or negligence “as he was able to establish that the prohibited substance entered the horse’s system through the ingestion of straw bedding that was contaminated through urination by the support personnel.”

“The Tribunal is, however, concerned regarding the number of reoccurring cases where urinating in the horses’ boxes led to cross contamination of those horses,” Cesar wrote. “In the view of the Tribunal those are clearly cases which could easily be avoided if all stakeholders in equestrian sport were properly educated about the risks of this kind of contamination. The Tribunal therefore strongly encourages the FEI, as well as those expected to educate others, for example riders that are supposed to educate their Support Personnel, to re-enforce their information and education duties.”

The FEI has sent an advisory on the issue to national federations, many of which have already or plan to distribute to riders.