Europeans Fight Tooth And Nail Against FEI Drug Policy Change

Nov 30, 2009 - 12:52 PM

The U.S. Equestrian Federation has come out in favor of the new Fédération Equestre Internationale drug policy that would allow certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in FEI competition, but many other major equestrian nations and high performance veterinarians are still stridently opposed.

Several FEI veterinarians and committee members, headed by former FEI Veterinary Committee chairman Leo B. Jeffcott, sent a letter to FEI president Princess Haya asking her to re-open the debate and hold another vote.

“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,” began the letter.

The veterinarians pointed out that the rule changes eliminating thresholds for phenylbutazone and salicylic acid had been made previously by the FEI after much research.

They also stated that many European countries prohibit medication in competition animals, rules that would make it difficult to enforce the new FEI legislation.

The letter may be read in its entirety on Fran Jurga’s The Jurga Report.

Breido Graf zu Rantzau, President of the German Equestrian Federation, discussed the possibility of a European boycott of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games under the new rules. The Aachen CHIO (Germany) will not take place under the new rules according to Jurga. The untranslated article is available here.

Germany certainly isn’t alone. According to Horse and Hound, Badminton CCI**** organizer Hugh Thomas has written to Princess Haya informing her that he is committed to running the four-star in the spirit of clean sport.

More than 7,500 people signed a petition, as of Nov. 30 against the drug policy change on no-fei.com. According to the site, the petition will remain online until mid-December, when it will be sent to the FEI.

The petition, started Nov. 23 by Claudia Sanders, states the following in Dutch, German, French and Spanish:

“The signatories, ask the Federation Equestrian International not to apply the resolutions of the so-called ‘Progressive List.’ It violates animal welfare to allow a horse to show in a competition although it needs painkillers. We request the FEI to immediately put their focus back on the welfare of the horse.”

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