BE join the BEF and Badminton's response to FEI Rule Change
 
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01 Dec 09

BE join the BEF and Badminton's response to FEI Rule Change

In response to the FEI's adoption of the "Progressive List" of banned substances which allowes the use of drugs such as Phenylbutazone ('bute'), Salicyclic Acid and Flunixin at certain prescribed limits, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), British Eventing and Badminton Horse Trials Director Hugh Thomas have issued the following statements:

British Equestrian Federation Statement on Clean Sport (30/11/2009)

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) applauds the decisions made by the General Assembly of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) in relation to Clean Sport with one major exception.

The leadership shown by the FEI to improve matters in the field of anti-doping over the last eighteen months has been excellent. In particular the work undertaken by the two FEI Clean Sport commissions, led by Lord Stevens and Professor Ljungqvist, and the effective consultation has been right for our time. The recommendations made by the BEF in relation to education, intelligence based testing, greater clarity on banned substances and harmonization of laboratories all, happily, find a place in the final conclusions.

However, we are deeply disappointed that this outstanding work has been completely overshadowed by the General Assembly’s adoption of the “progressive list” of banned substances. This list includes a range of drugs that, while banned in principle, are now permitted up to a limited threshold level where as, for many years, they have been entirely banned for use in competition. Specifically, the “progressive list” allows Acetycysteine, Dichloroacetate (Lactanase), and Isoxuprine. Further, it allows Phenylbutazone (up to 8 mcg/ml in plasma or serum), Salicyclic acid (up to 750mcg/ml in urine and up to 6.5 mcg/ml in plasma or serum) and Flunixin (up to 500 mcg/ml in plasma or serum,) so long as those substances are not detected in a horse's sample above the prescribed limits noted and are used in isolation and not combined.

We are deeply concerned by this development. The “progressive list” was sent to the national federations of the FEI on Friday 13 November, just six days before the day of the General Assembly on Thursday 19 November. There was no time for consultation, effective global debate or consideration of the serious implications of the dramatic policy change placed before the General Assembly. We have doubts about the legitimacy of the vote taken in light of the failure in timely notification of the resolution in question. We do not believe that all national federations could have been alert to the vital issues for the future of our sport when they were asked to vote on the earlier list, sent to national federations on 20 October (subsequently renamed the ‘Current List’ which added further ambiguity), and the later “progressive list”.

We therefore urge the FEI’s leadership to review the situation with the greatest possible urgency and either:

• defer the date of introduction of the “progressive list” of the key banned substances until after the 2010 World Equestrian Games to allow for a period of reflection and consultation

or

• withdraw the permissibility of the drugs in question from the “progressive list” before the published implementation date of 1 January 2010.

Andrew Finding, BEF’s Chief Executive, said; “Never before have we seen so much anger in our sport in Great Britain. It is deeply saddening that the very good work undertaken by the FEI in Clean Sport, and in other areas, is not recognised for its excellence. Of course there are differences of opinions amongst nations and within in the FEI, it could not be otherwise in a highly competitive sporting body. The majority of nations present voted in favour of the “progressive list” and we must respect the democratic processes but on this occasion, the proposal was “bounced” on national federations at unacceptably short notice and so we have a deeply flawed decision and a crisis of confidence on our hands. There is a universal demand from our community in Great Britain for change or amendment to the “progressive list”. Its abolition and replacement by the “20 October list” would be better still.”

He added:

“While this crisis unfolds and a satisfactory conclusion is sought, we encourage our sporting bodies, welfare groups, show and event organisers and their sponsors to maintain their programmes and plans in place. We will continue to use all means at our disposal to impress upon the FEI the necessity for change and will accordingly work with our partner NFs in Europe and elsewhere. We have established a small working group of experts to consider the issues at hand, to monitor developments and provide advice. We will publish a set of recommendations for publication that covers all of the implications of the Clean Sport initiatives shortly.”

British Eventing issued the following statement (30-11-2009);

"British Eventing is extremely unhappy at the prospect of the introduction of the Progressive list and firmly believe that this is a retrograde step going to the very heart of horse welfare and sporting integrity that will have profound repercussions for equestrian sport in general. We do not believe that it is acceptable for our sport to have to adopt the so-called Progressive List permitting the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and raising the salicylate threshold and will do everything we can to change or suspend the decision taken by the FEI General Assembly at its recent meeting in Copenhagen.

British Eventing is committed to a clean sport with horse welfare and fair competition as two of its core beliefs."

Hugh Thomas, Badminton Horse Trials Director included the following in a letter to Princess Haya (30/11/2009): 

"The Progressive List

It was with great disquiet that we at Badminton heard the news from Copenhagen that the ‘Progressive List’ had been adopted, thus permitting the use in future of NSAIDs and the raising of the threshold for salicylate acid.

I do not believe there is any way we can justify this change to the media or, most important, to the public who attend our event in great numbers. I am extremely unhappy at the prospect of being asked to run an event under rules which we believe seriously damage the integrity of our sport. This proposed rule change is quite different in kind to all the normal sporting and other regulations which we might or might not agree with but which do not go to the very heart of both horse welfare and sporting integrity.

We believe that if a horse needs these drugs to appear sound, whether in actual competition or at the Horse Inspections, he should not take part in the competition. Furthermore, the soundness or otherwise of a horse is integral to the Three Day Event, which is a test not only of his ability and his rider’s but also his fitness and soundness.

We very much regret that this extraordinary late change in the regulations was permitted to go in front of the General Assembly; it has overshadowed or indeed torpedoed all the excellent work done on the Clean Sport programme. We are indeed utterly committed to running our event in the spirit of ‘Clean Sport’ – I have been asked literally hundreds of times over the past week to justify or support the FEI’s decision on the Progressive List and I find it impossible to do so – which gives me great sadness after my close personal relationship with the FEI for well over 30 years in one capacity or another.

I do urge you to do whatever is necessary to change or suspend this decision and to do so urgently, as the FEI is fast losing credibility in the wide equestrian world."

Progress reports will appear on the British Eventing website's newpages. 

For more information on the Progressive List please go to: www.bef.co.uk/Downloads/20OctoberList.pdf