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Opinion Piece by Laura Donnellan on contaminated horse feed and failed drug tests

29.08.2017
Opinion Piece by Laura Donnellan on contaminated horse feed and failed drug tests Opinion Piece by Laura Donnellan on contaminated horse feed and failed drug tests

A recent study carried out by Swiss-based researchers has found that, in samples taken from twenty-eight types of horse feed, eighteen tested positive for prohibited and controlled substances. The findings were published online in German, with the abstract in English.

The research was undertaken in response to three high profile failed drug tests in 2015 involving two Swiss jumping riders whose horses tested positive for banned and controlled substances. The two riders, Guerdat and Bichsel, were subsequently cleared when it was found that the failed tests were attributed to poppy seed contamination of their food. Both riders had their suspensions lifted as the FEI Tribunal was satisfied that the positive tests were the result of contaminated horse feed. However, the two-month suspension placed on the horses was upheld on the grounds of animal welfare, which is an established policy of the FEI (see Laura Donnellan, “Doping and equestrian: Fédération Equestre Internationale and the lifting of eleven provisional suspensions” (2017) 8 (2) Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports 42-45).

Contaminated horse feed is a common occurrence: for example, the Queen of England’s horse Estimate tested positive for a banned substance after coming second at the Gold Cup at Ascot in 2014. Estimate was found to have morphine and oripavine present in his urine sample, in breach of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Rules of Racing. It was subsequently found that the feed had been contaminated by poppy seeds as the manufacturer of the food (Alfalfa Oil Plus), Dodson & Horrell Limited, was situated near a field of poppies. As with the FEI, the BHA overturned the qualification and the prize money of £80,625 prize-money  £80,625 was forfeited to Missunited, the horse which originally finished third (see Laura Donnellan, “Sowing the poppy seed of doubt: Recent failed drug tests in British horseracing”, (2014) 5 (4) Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports 35-38).

For the entire text of the Opinion Piece see: http://www.sportsandtaxation.com/2017/08/equestrianism-swiss-researchers-find-64-of-horse-feed-contains-prohibited-or-controlled-substances/