by Fran Jurga | 19 November 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
History was made today in Copenhagen, Denmark when delegates from the member nations that comprise the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of horse sports for competitions such as the World Cups, World Equestrian Games and Olympics, voted to allow small amounts of non-steroidal medications to be given to competition horses.
The FEI has to date promoted a zero-tolerance policy on all medication.
US riders have always had to compete on a double standard, since most US show organizations allow low levels of medication, but when upper level horses qualified for international events, no medication could be given.
However, in all press reports from Copenhagen, there is denial that the proposal was pushed by the United States in order to bring the world closer to US rules. Many nations are adamant that no drugs at all is the only acceptable policy for the highest level of sport to be fair.
Disqualifications for medication have been an embarrassment for several medal winners in the past two Olympic equestrian competitions.
Allowing medications may be objectionable to some of the largest sponsors of horse sport events in some countries and on the global level. Event organizers will be holding their breath.
Below, in red type, is the official statement from the FEI on this vote and the bigger impact of its "Clean Sport" initiative.
The new rules take effect in January, unless some extraordinary action prevents it, and will mean that medication will be allowed at the AllTech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky next fall.
At Kentucky, the world's horses will be competing at the highest level for the first time on medication, making that a more historic event than any of us could ever have imagined.
In a landmark moment for equestrian sport, the FEI General Assembly today voted overwhelmingly in favour of new Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations which will ensure the welfare of the horse and guarantee a fair playing field. A series of far reaching recommendations - part of the Clean Sport Campaign led by the Ljungqvist and Stevens Commissions - were also adopted by a massive majority amongst the 105 National Federations represented in Copenhagen.
Delegates also approved in a close vote a new Prohibited Substances List itemising more than 1000 substances not allowed in competition. The adoption of the so-called "Progressive List" now permits in-competition use of a limited number of medications under strictly prescribed limits.
FEI President HRH Princess Haya thanked the delegates on behalf of the sport for their support of the Clean Sport Campaign. "This is a true landmark moment in the history of our sport," HRH Princess Haya commented. "The overwhelming support of the National Federations for the Clean Sport Campaign is proof that we are moving in the right direction thanks to the incredible work done by the Ljungqvist and Stevens Commissions. This vote has given us the power to roll out Clean Sport and allow us to restore the public image of our sport as a clean and uncorrupt product."
The Clean Sport Campaign is the result of a year-long consultation process which has brought together the viewpoints and expertise of the entire FEI Family and the professional recommendations of the Commissions led by Prof. Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC Medical Commission and vice president of the World Anti Doping Agency, and Lord Stevens, formed Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Professor Ljungqvist said, "Ultimately it was down to the equestrian community to make the final decision and they have voted in support of the package as a whole. The two Commissions have put in an enormous amount of work to come up with these recommendations and it is particularly gratifying that we have received such overwhelming support for the Clean Sport Campaign from the National Federations."
Lord Stevens stated afterwards, "We said yesterday that the FEI needed to adopt these recommendations before it could be given a clean bill of health. They have been approved by a massive majority and now the sport can move forward."
Voting Facts and Figures:
Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations: 95 in favour, 5 against
105 NFs represented (101 participated, 100 valid, 1 abstention)
Commissions Recommendations:90 in favour, 8 against
103 NFs represented (100 participated, 99 valid, 1 abstention)
Lists of Prohibited Substances: 53 in favour of Progressive List, 48 in favour of other List
105 NFs represented (102 participated, 101 valid, 1 abstention)
FEI Veterinary Regulations: 86 in favour, 9 against
105 NFs represented (102 participated, 95 valid, 7 abstentions)