FEI Judicial Committee Decided On Rusty Doping Case

Debbie McDonald to Be 2003 World Cup Finals' Winner

The Judicial Committee of the FEI has issued its decision today in the medication control case involving the horse Rusty and his rider Ulla Salzgeber (GER) submitted to the Judicial Committee for decision on October 23 2003. Ulla Salzgeber has been disqualified from the 2003 World Cup Finals and has to return her title and prize money. American Debbie McDonald, who placed second in the Finals, will receive the 2003 World Cup Finals' Title in Salzgeber's place. Furthermore, Salzgeber is fined 2,500 Swiss Francs and has to pay 1,000 Swiss Francs towards the costs of the judicial procedure.

Rusty was selected for sampling at CDI-W Final Göteborg (SWE) on 28 March 2003. Analysis of the urine and blood conducted by LAB, the FEI’s approved central laboratory, revealed the presence of Testosterone above the threshold level. A confirmatory analysis has not been requested. Testosterone is the principal endogenous androgenic-anabolic steroid in horses and men. It is used for therapeutic purposes but can also be abused. Testosterone is a prohibited substance pursuant.

The evidence revealed that 13 days before the start of CDI-W Final Göteborg, the Salzgeber’s veterinarian had administered Rusty 25 mg Testosterone Propionate to treat an assumed hormonal imbalance in Rusty that may have caused patchy hair loss. The veterinarian had not made this fact known to either the veterinarian of the German National Federation or to Ulla Salzgeber. The Judicial Committee accepts that Salzgeber did no know that Rusty had undergone any treatment prior to the event.

The Judicial Committee determines that Salzgeber has not taken any intentional action to deliberately affect the performance of the horse. Salzgeber had established a system that was supposed to make treatments transparent and disclosed. According to the Salzgeber's statements, her veterinarian has not followed such procedures in the present case. There is no evidence in this case that Salzgeber had actual knowledge of the treatment given to Rusty by her veterinarian. There is also no evidence that Rusty received a specific competitive advantage as a result of the administration of the prohibited substance which – according to Salzgeber’s vet - was connected to a legitimate medical procedure.

Nevertheless, Salzgeber has failed to ensure that Rusty has no prohibited substances in its systems during an international event. Since this is a strict liability offense that does not require intent or even specific knowledge, Salzgeber did not comply with General Regulations Art. 146 and Rusty with its rider, Ulla Salzgeber, must be disqualified from the event and that all prizes and prize money won at the event must be forfeited in accordance with GR 174.7.1.

It should be emphasized that, in deciding against Salzgeber and imposing the penalties, the Judicial Committee is not claiming that Salzgeber knew about the treatment, authorized it or received any advantage as a result thereof. Therefore, Salzgeber's prominent reputation must stay unaffected. Nevertheless, this case should again emphasize the vital importance of medication control and the need for all caretakers to be conservative in their assessments and more importantly to report to Salzgeber all treatments and allow her to make the required determination whether to enter the horse in an international event or request an authorization to compete despite a prior treatment. This is the system established by the FEI which is aimed at establishing fair and equal conditions for competitors.

Salzgeber has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

Related Links
Complete FEI Press Release at Eurodressage.com
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