The first chamber of the disciplinary commission of the German Equestrian Federation has suspended top German dressage rider Isabell Werth from all competitions—national and international—for six months. She also must pay a fine of 2,000 euros.
Werth’s mount El Santo NRW tested positive for cimetidine at the 2012 Rhineland Championships, held at Langenfeld (Germany), June 21-24, and the case has been under investigation since that positive test.
Cimetidine, often used for the treatment of stomach ulcers, is considered a banned substance, but its use is not considered doping. For the FEI, cimetidine is an allowed substance for administration, but certain rules must be obeyed. The medication can be submitted to the horse before a competition, but not during a competition—like at the stops during an endurance race. And the administration of this medication would have to be documented.
At the time of the positive test, Werth stated that El Santo’s stablemate, Warum Nicht, was receiving cimetidine as a precaution against ulcers. Werth stated that El Santo likely ingested the banned substance through the automatic watering system in the barn after a power failure caused the barn well pump to produce negative pressure, drawing the water from Warum Nicht’s waterer and later, when working again, pumping the contaminated water into El Santo’s waterer.
But the German Federation Board determined that El Santo likely received the substance by licking the bars of the stalls between the two horses. Werth had to prove her evaluation of the situation with a reliability of at least 50 percent, and the German Federation stated she’d not done so.
“The Board anticipates that the positive drug test for the horse El Santo NRW was due to a negligent breach of duty in the stable of the rider,” said the German Federation in a written statement. “The alternative claim that cimetidine was in the body of El Santo because of failure of the installed circulating watering system is extremely unlikely in the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee.”
She was suspended for doping in 2009.