In response to recent discussions in the equestrian community about the length of time that Fédération Equestre Internationale anti-doping cases may take to prosecute, the FEI has clarified its procedures.
“It is the FEI’s role to ensure the full integrity of competition and fair play, while at the same time ensuring that the rights of the athlete are fully protected,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said. “As an international governing body, the FEI cannot allow that athletes would ever be condemned or sanctioned without having the proper opportunities to defend themselves. It is of course regrettable, on every level, whenever there is a positive finding, but the FEI has to follow due process in the interest of all parties involved.”
Following the confirmation of a positive sample, it is the FEI’s duty to prove to the Tribunal that there has been a violation of the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations. A positive finding is simply the start of the process.
In the event of a provisional suspension being imposed following a positive finding, the Person Responsible can apply at any time for a preliminary hearing to request lifting of the provisional suspension.
The PR has the right to contest the positive finding, including challenging the sample collection and analysis procedures to the Tribunal. The PR also has the right to provide an explanation for the presence of the prohibited substance in order to reduce or eliminate the applicable sanction.
The finding whether there has been a rule violation can only be made once the case has been heard by the Tribunal. It is only when the Tribunal confirms in its final decision that there is a rule violation that the automatic disqualification from the competition can be applied. Other sanctions may also be imposed by the Tribunal.
The FEI is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code and has to respect the WADA principles, which include the right to a fair hearing. All parties involved have to be given time to prepare their submissions in order to properly defend themselves. Signatories to the WADA Code apply the same principles, and sports involving animals have to be consistent with the WADA Code.