FEI Clean Sport Controversy: FEI Veterinarians and Officials Send Letter of Protest to Princess Haya, Urge Reconsideration of Vote to Allow Medication - The Horse Owner's Resource

FEI Clean Sport Controversy: FEI Veterinarians and Officials Send Letter of Protest to Princess Haya, Urge Reconsideration of Vote to Allow Medication

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The following letter was sent today to FEI President Princess Haya in the wake of international confusion and turmoil over changes to FEI international competition policy. A rule change at last week's FEI General Assembly allowed the adoption of a "Progressive List" of medications for competition horses.

An ad hoc group of leading FEI officials and veterinarians from around the world joined in the writing of this formal letter of protest, a copy of which was kindly sent to me today for sharing with the public. One veterinarian on the list, Dr Jack Snyder, is from the United States.

Re: FEI Clean Sport; The ?Progressive List'
To: FEI President

Your Royal Highness,

As a group of senior veterinarians with experience of equestrian competition at international level, we write to express our grave concern at the recent decision of the FEI General Assembly to adopt the so-called ?Progressive List' that allows the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in competition horses. This resolution has seriously over-shadowed the commendable clean sport campaign recommended by the Stevens/Ljungqvist reports, which offered a major step forward in equestrian sport. We would like to emphasise that we are fully behind the concept of ?clean sport'.

The ?Progressive List', which we understand was seen for the first time by the delegates when they arrived for the assembly, has not been debated sufficiently and we believe a decision has been made that was premature, illconsidered and seriously retrograde. Permitting the use of NSAIDs will lead to abuse and the participation of horses in competition that are unfit to compete.

It also removes the ?level playing field' that has been a crucial and fundamental ethos of the FEI since its foundation. We believe the decision must be reconsidered and would draw your attention to the following historical facts.

Firstly, following extensive consultation, the General Assembly meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1993, finally removed the ?maximum permitted level' for phenylbutazone (PBZ). Over a number of years this had been reduced from 5 ?g per millilitre of blood to 2 ?g/ml. Under the ?Progressive List', PBZ will be permitted up to a level of 8 ?g/ml, a four-fold increase on the level rejected by the Rio meeting. This decision will have a serious and negative effect on welfare and profound repercussions for equestrian sport. The ?Progressive List' also permits flunixin, another NSAID, to be used up to a level of 0.5 ?g/ml in serum or plasma.

Secondly, the ?Progressive List' raises the salicylate threshold. We would point out that this threshold was lowered in 1999 on the advice of the Veterinary Committee and again following extensive consultation. Salicylic acid had been found in CORAL COVE at the 1998 World Equestrian Games (see
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/coral-cove-findings-castdoubt-on-the-vet-741672.html) and it was apparent at the time that intravenous ?topping up' to the threshold was not a rare occurrence.

After analysis of 650 equine urine samples collected worldwide and considerable discussion it was decided to reduce the FEI threshold to below that used by racing (where there was no evidence of similar abuse). The work was reported to the International Conference of Racing Analysts and Veterinarians in 2004 and was subsequently published. There was therefore a clear rationale for the threshold of 625 ?g/ml in urine or 5.4 ?g/ml in plasma.

Thirdly, national legislation in many European countries prohibits any medication in competition animals. This does not apply in parts of the US where ?permitted levels' are more common. A ?controlled restricted' list will surely be unenforceable where it is in conflict with the national laws of a country.

In conclusion, we would urge you to reopen this debate, encourage extensive international consultation and invite National Federations to reconsider their decision in Copenhagen in the interests of the health and welfare of the competition horse.

Sincerely yours,
Leo B. Jeffcott (former Chair, FEI Veterinary Committee)
and
Andrew Higgins (FEI Honorary Scientific Adviser and former Chair Medication
Advisory Group)
Roberto Busetto (FEI MCP Veterinarian)
Jean-Fran?ois Bruyas (FEI MCP Veterinarian)
Michael D?e (former member FEI Veterinary Committee)
Paul Farrington (former Vice Chair, FEI Veterinary Committee)
Wilfried Hanbuecken (Chief Veterinary Officer CHIO Aachen)
Liisa Harmo (FEI MCP Veterinarian)
Miklos Jarmy (FEI MCP Veterinarian)
Peter Kallings (former President, IGSRV and MCP Veterinarian)
Gerit Mattheson (member FEI Veterinary Committee)
Nigel Nichols (former member FEI Veterinary Committee)
Jack Snyder (member FEI Veterinary Committee)
Warwick Vale (FEI Veterinary Delegate and Olympic Games, Sydney 2000
FEI Medication Control Program Supervisor)
Alex Atock (former Head, FEI Veterinary Department)

Copies of this letter were also sent to
Sven Holmberg (FEI 1st Vice-President)
Chris Hodson (FEI 2nd Vice-President)
Alex McLin (FEI Secretary General)
John McEwen (Chair, FEI Veterinary Committee)
Graeme Cooke (Director, FEI Veterinary Department)

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