Court of Arbitration for Sport Upholds FEI Policy on Equine Provisional Suspensions

Friday, March 23, 2018
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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has this week upheld the FEI’s policy of imposing two-month provisional suspensions on horses that have tested positive for *Banned Substances under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping Regulations.

The ruling came as part of an appeal filed by US Dressage athletes Adrienne Lyle and Kaitlin Blythe after two-month provisional suspensions were imposed on their horses, Horizon and Don Principe on 5 April 2017 when samples taken from the horses at an international Dressage event in Florida (USA) in February 2017 returned positive for the Banned Substance Ractopamine. The two athletes were also provisionally suspended but had their provisional suspensions lifted by the FEI Tribunal.

An application to the FEI Tribunal for the lifting of the provisional suspensions on the horses was unsuccessful, however, in May 2017, Ms Lyle and Ms Blythe obtained an interim decision from the CAS pending the full hearing of their appeal which cleared the horses to compete again.

The full hearing on the merits of Ms Lyle’s and Ms Blythe’s appeal against the equine provisional suspensions was heard at the CAS in November 2017 and the final decision was issued by the CAS on 19 March 2018, confirming the validity of the FEI’s policy of two-month equine provisional suspensions in Banned Substance cases. The three-person CAS panel held that the policy was created by the FEI “in pursuit of a legitimate aim” and has “a consensus of approval in the equine community”.

The CAS panel also accepted the FEI’s argument that the two-month suspension policy, put in place to protect horse welfare and promote a level playing field, is proportionate even in cases where it could be shown that any residual effect of the substances has disappeared before the end of the two-month period.

In line with the interim CAS decision any results achieved by the horses after that decision will stand.

“We are delighted to have received such a clear endorsement of the FEI’s policy on equine provisional suspensions from the Court of Arbitration for Sport”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “Horse welfare is always top of the agenda for the FEI and the mandatory two-month provisional suspension of horses in Banned Substance cases is an important measure to ensure that the welfare of our equine athletes is not compromised.”

The full CAS decision is available here

Proceedings on the merits of Ms Lyle’s and Ms Blythe’s cases are ongoing before the FEI Tribunal and, in order to maintain the integrity of these proceedings, the FEI will not comment further on the ongoing cases.