Guerdat, Bichsel Cleared by FEI

By September 28, 2015
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Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets after finishing La Baule in first place. (Photo: Equnews.fr)

Swiss Jumping riders Steve Guerdat and Alessandra Bichsel, whose horses tested positive for Prohibited Substances earlier this year, have been cleared of any wrongdoing following separate legal agreements with the FEI. The agreements, in which the FEI accepts that the positives were caused by poppy seed contamination, have been independently approved by the FEI Tribunal.

Under the terms of the agreements, there are no sanctions against either Guerdat or Bichsel other than the automatic disqualification of the horses’ results at the events where they tested positive in accordance with Article 9 and Article 10.1.4 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping (EAD) Rules.

Samples taken from the horse Nino des Buissonnets, ridden by Guerdat to first place at the La Baule CSIO5* in France on May 17, returned positive for the banned substances Codeine and Oripavine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. Samples taken from the horse Nasa (FEI ID FRA45675), also ridden by Guerdat at the same event on May 16, returned positive for the banned substance Codeine and the controlled medication substance Morphine. The sample from Nasa also showed traces of Oripavine, but not at a sufficiently high level for the testing laboratory to declare a positive.

Samples taken from the horse Charivari KG (FEI ID 102ZB26), ridden by Bichsel, at the CSIOY (Young Riders) in Deauville (FRA) on May 8 also returned positive for the same three substances, Codeine, Oripavine and Morphine.

The two athletes, Guerdat and Bichsel, were notified of the positives by the FEI on July 20 and were both provisionally suspended. The three horses were also provisionally suspended for a two-month period.

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Alessandra Bichsel

The FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender acknowledged in July that the three positives were probably the result of contamination, but that standard procedure still had to be followed.

The FEI Tribunal agreed to lift the provisional suspensions on the two athletes on July 27, but requests for the lifting of the provisional suspensions on the horses were denied. The two-month provisional suspensions imposed on the horses expired on September 19.

Both Guerdat and Bichsel had used the same feed supplier, and independent laboratory tests have proved that the feed was contaminated with poppy seeds. The FEI accepts that the circumstances of the cases were exceptional and that the presence of the three prohibited substances in the horses’ samples is consistent with poppy seed contamination.

The FEI also accepts that the two athletes have demonstrated that they bear no fault or negligence and have also established how the Banned Substances entered the horses’ systems, the two requirements under the FEI Equine Anti-Doping (EAD) Rules in order to have the two-year period of ineligibility and other sanctions eliminated.

Under the terms of the two agreements, neither of the athletes was required to appear before the FEI Tribunal for a hearing. However, the panel of FEI Tribunal Chair Erik Elstad (NOR), Pierre Ketterer (FRA) and Henrik Arle (FIN) was called upon to give its formal approval of the agreements in accordance with the Article 7.6.1 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).

The FEI Tribunal’s Final Decision states that it can find “no grounds to object to or disapprove the terms of the Agreement and is satisfied the Agreement constitutes a bona fide settlement” of the three cases. The cases are now closed.

The Final Decisions for the consolidated cases of the two horses Nino des Buissonnets and Nasa is available here, and the Final Decision for the horse Charivari KG is here.

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