by Fran Jurga | 26 November 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
News keeps coming in from Europe in response to the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) vote last week to allow small amounts of therapeutic medications (Bute, Banamine, and others) in competition horses at the highest international level. While the levels allowed by the FEI are still beneath the threshold of US regulations, they represent a major sea change for European federations, many of which operate under strict equine welfare laws in their countries. These laws may prohibit any medication in show horses and place competitions such as World Cup qualifiers in direct conflict with national regulations if drugs are to be allowed.
One objection listed by several countries is that the list of medications was not available before the meeting and the vote was taken quickly; time did not allow time for delegates to consult veterinary experts in their home countries.
Here is a statement published Wednesday on the web site of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).
"BEVA views the recent announcement by the FEI that they are to adopt a "Progressive List" of medications that are permissible for horses in competitions to be an extremely retrograde step for equine welfare. This decision obscures the distinction between therapy and subjecting unsound horses to the stresses of competition. Furthermore, we have grave concerns that horses competing whilst under treatment with pain-relieving medicines, are at an increased risk of musculoskeletal lesions progressing to catastrophic injuries.
"We see this announcement as a backward step for the development of equestrian sport that is contrary to the public aspiration of drug-free competition. We would strongly encourage a rational review of the available evidence and if necessary new research to try and formulate a more scientific basis for these regulations."
--Henry Tremaine, BEVA Honorary Information Officer
The BEVA statement follows closely on the heels of a letter of protest filed by leading FEI veterinary officers and consultants, including several experts from Great Britain.
To date, the FEI has not formally answered its critics in Europe, other than to deny a re-vote on the adoption of the list. Likewise, USEF has not published a statement about how the United States may be impacted by the rule change. We'll certainly post any information that the FEI or USEF provides.