The FEI has announced two adverse analytical findings involving prohibited substances.
Samples taken at the CEI1* in Doha (QAT) on 22 April 2016 from the winning horse Centurion, FEI ID 102RM71/QAT, ridden by Abdulla Mubarak Rashed Al Khaili, FEI ID 10076760/UAE, have returned positive for the banned substance human Erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a banned substance under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).
Samples taken at the same event from the horse SUR (Mabrouk), FEI ID UAE01796/QAT, ridden to second place by Mohd Butti Ghemran Al Qubaisi, FEI ID 10092584/UAE, also returned positive for human EPO.
EPO is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally in the body. It is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Rules, EPO has been banned as a performance enhancing substance for human athletes since the early 1990s, but a reliable testing method was not in place until 2000. EPO has been banned for equine use under the FEI’s EADCMRs since 2010.
“EPO is well known in human endurance sports in which an increased number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells is an advantage, but the substance has little benefit in equestrian sport and this is the first time we have seen FEI horses testing positive for EPO”, FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström said. “Horses have a large natural reserve of red blood cells stored in their spleen, and the use of EPO would actually have a negative effect in many horses as the increased level of red blood cells would slow down blood circulation.”
“Clean sport is a top priority for all governing bodies”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “and a key part of that is protecting our clean athletes. So we will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that there is no room in our sport for those who attempt to gain a competitive advantage through the use of prohibited substances.”
Both athletes have been provisionally suspended from the date of notification (2 June 2016). The two horses have also been provisionally suspended for a two-month period.
Further details on these cases can be found here.