The Games Aren't Over Yet: US Olympic Dressage Horse Tests Positive for Banned Substance

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Courtney King-Dye and Mythilus; photo kindly loaned by Susan J. Stickle (thanks!)

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The FEI today communicated that an additional doping/medication case at the 2008 Olympic Games has emerged. The charges concern US dressage rider Courtney King-Dye and her horse Mythilus, who tested positive for the banned substance Felbinac, considered a "medication class A" prohibited substance.

Felbinac is applied topically for the relief of local pain and inflammation and belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

King-Dye, who placed 13th individually in the Dressage competition, was officially notified on the morning of 22 August of the positive test result and the decision for provisional suspension was upheld that evening at a preliminary hearing before one member of the FEI Tribunal.

Later today, the US Equestrian Federation released information that Mythilus had been treated in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Clinic for artrial fibrillation as a result of stress from his trip. USEF's team veterinarian, Dr. Rick Mitchell, attended to the horse in close cooperation with the Veterinary Commission.

King-Dye and Dr. Mitchell believe that during treatment at the clinic, he may have come in contact with Felbinac. In discussion with King-Dye, USEF vets, grooms and physical therapists, no other explanation or conclusion was able to be drawn.

"Neither I nor my vets had ever heard of the drug Felbinac until we got the call about Myth's positive test," said King-Dye. "We were stunned and baffled. We spent the entire day doing internet research on the uses for this drug and how it could possibly have gotten into my horse's system.

"As far as we could find it is not even manufactured, approved, or available in the US. My horse has had no soundness problems whatsoever, and I would have no need for an anti-inflammatory.

"Anyone who knows me knows whole heartedly that I would never dope my horse intentionally. It is cheating; it is not putting your best against the other's best. I have never been in a more torturous and frustrating situation; trying to prove innocence is very hard. It saddens me beyond description that my whole reputation could be blackened because of this situation," she said in an official USEF statement released today.

The FEI Tribunal stated in their Preliminary Decision that "there are circumstances in this case that makes it difficult to clear out how the Prohibited Substance entered into the horse's system."

"The USEF stands behind the FEI's initiatives to rid the sport of doping and to protect the welfare of our horses. We are equally supportive of Courtney in this situation as this substance was unknown to any of us until a few days ago," said USEF CEO John Long. "It seems clear that Mythilus came into contact with it without Courtney's or Dr. Mitchell's knowledge."

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