Equestrianism: FEI focuses on drug-free Games

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The Independent Online

The international equestrian federation is stepping up its fight against doping, in order to avoid a repeat of the 2004 Athens Olympics fiasco.

"Athens was really a bad moment for the sport," an FEI spokeswoman, Malina Gueorguiev, said. "It was a big problem and it was very spectacular. Should anything like that happen again it could be very detrimental for the sport."

Three gold medallists were stripped of their titles four years ago. The FEI is anxious to restore the sport's reputation in Hong Kong in August.

The governing body approved its new anti-doping strategy of more tests and better communication with riders and veterinarians after a week of meetings at Interlaken, Switzerland.

"For human athletes, we are not facing any serious problems: for the horses every medication is forbidden in competition – that is the bottom line," Gueorguiev said.

Testing teams will take urine samples from the leading three horses in each discipline and conduct further random tests.

"We are looking at about 50 to 60 tests from 200 horses competing, and some of those horses will be tested multiple times if they are leading from the first day," Gueorguiev said.

At the last Olympics, Cian O'Connor of Ireland was stripped of his showjumping gold in a doping case that involved a sample being lost or stolen from a laboratory in England.

Germany lost the team showjumping gold medal after Ludger Beerbaum's horse returned a positive test. His appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, failed.

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