Anti-doping rule changes agreed for horse sport


The new rules, agreed at the 2020 FEI general assembly, aim to give more flexibility in the event of positive tests that are likely caused by contamination. H&H finds out more.

A NUMBER of “important” anti-doping rule changes were among the decisions made during the 2020 FEI general assembly (13–23 November), which took place online owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing the assembly on 23 November, FEI president Ingmar de Vos said it had been a “difficult year for everyone” and despite still being in a global pandemic, now was the time to “rebuild”.

Ahead of the new World 
Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code being introduced on 
1 January 2021, which includes international standards on education and result management, the FEI stated it was obliged to revise its anti-doping rules to align with it – 
with new rules being voted on affecting areas such as contamination, disqualification and sample analysis.

For 2021, national federations must update their rules to incorporate “key provisions” of
the FEI’s anti-doping rules, provide anti-doping education and report any potential violations to the FEI.

Changes to the rules mean after a sample has been reported as negative, it may be stored and subjected to further analysis later by the anti-doping organisation that called for the sample – or the FEI, in line with the WADA Code. While concerns were raised in August by British Equestrian that with time it may become “impossible” to identify the cause or provide evidence on contamination, the FEI said retrospective testing is an important tool and the introduction of a new atypical findings policy would help mitigate issues.

This policy aims to offer more flexibility in the event of positive samples, likely caused by contamination. This means substances will be treated initially as an “atypical finding” instead of an “adverse analytical finding” – allowing the FEI to carry out a review before the result is reported as positive and proceedings are officially commenced. Should the FEI choose to pursue an atypical finding as an adverse analytical finding, this is final and not subject to an appeal.

Other changes agreed include an amendment to the disqualification rule following “a lot of confusion and debate”.
Where a positive test occurs at the Olympics or Paralympics, this will lead to disqualification of all the rider’s results obtained at that event, with all horses.

Mr de Vos closed the assembly stating “important decisions had been made”.

“We have a lot to look forward to and we also have a great legacy to preserve,” he said. “We need to show how unique we are in the sporting landscape, from the incredible horsemanship in the arena, to the inspired teamwork behind the scenes making it all happen. There is no sport that compares to equestrianism and it is our responsibility and due to ensure we present the very best of who we are.”