Equestrianism: Dope test system set for overhaul

A completely new system of dope testing and medication for competition horses will be set in motion this weekend if the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) accepts recommendations made by the task force it appointed last November.

A completely new system of dope testing and medication for competition horses will be set in motion this weekend if the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) accepts recommendations made by the task force it appointed last November.

These were outlined yesterday by Sweden's Sven Holmberg, the chairman of the task force, at an Open Forum that formed part of the FEI's general assembly in London. Many of the recommendations could be ratified today or tomorrow.

Out could go zero tolerance. Instead, Holmberg and his team suggest that substances should be put into three grades: "Doping" (performance enhancers); "Medication Class A" (agents, such as painkillers and sedatives, which could influence performance but are not given with that intention); and "Medication Class B" (substances that scarcely affect performance).

Also proposed are the extended use of recommended levels of detection and the publication of accepted equine medications and their withdrawal times before competitions, neither of which would be ready until next April.

Policies for speeding up the process of analysis and legal procedure are also proposed. The standard process time will be about one month, with the overall procedure (including judicial committee hearings) taking about five months.

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