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  • Op Ed -- Equestrian Enters Clean Sport Era


    "The legitimacy of equestrian sport is rooted in the concept of fair play. The doping scandals of the Athens and Beijing games certainly threatened that legitimacy."-- FEI Secretary General Alex McLin
    April 5, 2010 marks the beginning of a new era for equestrian sports. It is the day when the FEI’s new anti-doping rules and the equine prohibited substances list will “go live” and competitors, coaches, vets, and officials will all be responsible for abiding by the new regulations.

    This moment will mark the culmination of a collective effort dating back to 2004 and the aftermath of the Athens Olympic Games. It was then that the FEI set out to confront the doping issue, realizing the threat it posed to the integrity of the sport and the welfare of our horses. Four years later, the Beijing Games served as a harsh reminder that we were not moving fast enough or making enough progress. Since then, the FEI along with the entire equestrian community has redoubled its efforts and, on April 5th, we will witness the results of our hard work and dedication.

    A primary goal of the Clean Sport Campaign has been to provide competitors, vets and coaches with greater clarity and more guidance as to which substances and medications should not be used in competition. The FEI believes the new prohibited substance list accomplishes this.

    The list is divided into two categories: “Banned Substances” which have no common legitimate use in equines, and “Controlled Medications,” which have common uses, but are not allowed whilst in FEI competition. To aid riders and vets in quickly determining whether substances and medications they are using are permitted, we have created a drug information database. This database, available on, contains more than 1,000 entries and is easily searchable. It will help eliminate the guessing that many competitors and their vets have had to do in the past.

    The legitimacy of equestrian sport is rooted in the concept of fair play. The doping scandals of the Athens and Beijing games certainly threatened that legitimacy. So with Clean Sport, it was essential that the equestrian community send a clear signal to the world that doping would not be tolerated and would be punished severely. It was equally important to ensure the means to protect the horse welfare. Therefore, the new equine anti-doping regulations set clearer responsibilities for competitors and tougher sanctions for those who violate the rules. Similar to the prohibited substances list, the regulations are divided into two sections, with the approach to “Banned Substances” (doping) stricter than the previous rules while the rules governing “Controlled Medication Substances” are more flexible to compensate for the realities of competition and the needs of horse welfare.

    Additionally, the FEI has broadened the concept of “Person Responsible” (PR) to include a greater focus on support personnel. The goal is to ensure that all participants in equestrian sports who violate the anti-doping regulations be held accountable. This does not lessen or shift the primary responsibility of the PR but allows, where circumstances warrant, that support personnel also be held responsible.

    Another key feature of the Clean Sport Campaign is the creation of the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU), which was set up following recommendations from the Joint-Ljungqvist and Stevens Commissions. The ECIU will enable the FEI to monitor equestrian events for potential violation of rules, malpractice and conflicts of interest. The ECIU established a telephone hotline to allow anyone within the sport who has concerns regarding sporting integrity to report any issues anonymously and confidentially. You can call the ECIU hotline on +44 (0) 20 7935 5822 or email them at:

    With these new rules, procedures and monitoring, the FEI believes it has built a framework within which fair play and competition can thrive – free from the influences of doping. But there is more work to be done. The entire equestrian community must remain vigilant to the constant threat that doping poses to the integrity of our sport and the welfare of our horses.

    April 5th is landmark day on which to recognize the dedication and collective effort of the equestrian community in ushering our sport into the Clean Sport Era.

    Guest Op Ed written by FEI Secretary General Alex McLin.

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