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FEI Presents Drug Testing Review at General Assembly

The year 2006 was a most productive year for the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) with regard to testing, in terms of numbers of horses tested as well as the number of events covered. In total, the FEI tested 3173 horses: 2097 in the Medication Control Program (MCP) (Groups I and II) and 1076 outside of the MCP, which is superior to anything done so far. In ten years, the number of tests has doubled: there were 1,500 tests conducted in 1996.

The FEI was, however, disappointed that the rate of positives remained the same overall: 2.5% in the MCP and 1.3% outside of it.

As far as the different disciplines were concerned, the absolute number of positives coming from jumping was inevitably the highest, as the events tested by the FEI are mostly jumping events. An interesting trend was that the increased popularity of CICs led to more eventing horses tested and thus caused a higher number of positives from this discipline.

The breakdown of positive cases by discipline was as follows:

• Jumping: 30

• Endurance: 9

• Eventing: 14

• Dressage: 6

• Vaulting: 1

• Driving: 1

• Reining: 1

In terms of expenses, there was a clear parallel between the increase in activities and the operational budget: MCP testing expenses went up by 40%. This means that a ceiling in testing, in regard to the current available budget, has been reached. It is therefore anticipated that the MCP fees might need to be increased.

To make a clear distinction between the use of routine, legitimate medication and deliberate and calculated doping to affect a horse’s performance, the FEI has published guidelines to assist treating and team veterinarians. The objectives are to protect the welfare of the horse, defend the integrity of the sport and to reassure the public, sponsors and media.

The FEI believes that any horse requiring bona fide veterinary treatment should receive it, but recognizes that the use of medication to treat illness and injury close to an event carries an inherent risk of incurring a positive drug test if insufficient time has elapsed for the elimination of the drug from the horse’s system. The Medication Advisory Group (MAG) has joined with the European Horseracing Scientific Liaison Committee (EHSLC) to coordinate a series of drug administration studies to produce information for treating and team veterinarians. For FEI purposes, the drugs have been selected in collaboration with the International Treating Veterinarians Association (ITVA) and are collectively known as the FEI ‘Medicine Box’. These are all treatments that might reasonably be expected to be used in routine clinical practice in the time running up to an event.

Experience over many years in the FEI has shown that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are clinically used in the management of injury to the locomotion system, are the most common group of drugs reported as prohibited substances. They have therefore been selected by the MAG as the first group for publication of detection time guidelines; along with the mucolytic agent dembrexine a local anesthetic and a sedative have been added. Information is now available on the FEI web site on the following: phenylbutazone, flunixin, ketoprofen, dipyrone (metamizole), dembrexine, mepivacaine and detomidine (a sedative). Advice on further drugs in the Medicine Box will follow as soon as possible as the data from the administration studies become available.

The Equine Anti-Doping and Medication Control (EAMDC) Rules adopted by the General Assembly at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur in May 2006 clarify that there is a strict liability on the Person Responsible (PR) with regard to prohibited substances. The MAG wish to point out that individual horses will vary in their responses to the administration of drugs as well as to the effects of training and exercise programs, diet, stable management and state of heath, which can all cause variations in drug elimination. Detection times issued by the FEI are not the same as ‘withdrawal times’ which must be a matter for the professional judgment of the treating or team veterinarian using an adequate safety margin and/or the FEI Elective Testing procedures.

Courtesy: The HorseTV Channel News, http://www.horsetv.com


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