Young Ecuadorian rider Daniela Moreno has received a formal warning after the horse she was assigned to ride in an FEI-sanctioned event tested positive for phenylbutazone and flunixin.
The breeder who rented the horse to her copped a two-year ban and was fined 2000 Swiss francs (CHF), plus costs.
Moreno had competed in a 120km CEI YJ2* endurance ride on July 2, 2011, in Casablanca, Chile. Her mount, Xime, was selected for blood sampling and testing the day before the event.
Moreno, 17 at the time of the breach, was given the warning by the FEI Tribunal, after Professor Jens Adolphsen considered the case on his own.
In his ruling, Adolphsen handed down a 24-month ban on Rubén Parra Gaete, identified as an additional person responsible over the doping incident, as he had rented the horse to Moreno for the event.
Phenylbutazone and flunixin, anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs, are listed as controlled medications under FEI drug rules.
Moreno had accepted the test finding and did not ask for the B-sample to be tested.
In submissions, Ecuador’s national federation explained that Moreno’s parents had borrowed Xime from Gaete, who had been both the owner and trainer of the horse.
It emerged that Gaete had been Moreno’s representative during the event, and she had rented the horse from him to compete.
Adolphsen heard that Moreno had not been part of the horse’s training or management, neither before nor during the event.
Moreno explained to the tribunal that she had competed on several borrowed horses in the past.
She had arrived at the event only three days before the competition, and the horse had been assigned to her by Gaete. She told Adolphsen that she had no responsibility for Xime’s preparation, since the horse was taken care of exclusively by Gaete.
She argued that, given the circumstances, no sanction should be imposed on her.
The FEI, in submissions, argued that, under the rules, Moreno was the person responsible as she had ridden Xime at the event. She remained the person responsible, regardless of the fact that she had been a minor at the time when her entry to the event had been submitted.
Moreno went on to submit a statement from her father, Bernardo Darquea, who had also been in charge of the qualifying process of the Ecuadorian team for the Pan-American Games.
Darquea explained that he had organized the renting of horses for the Ecuadorian riders, including his daughter, for several events, including the event in question.
He explained that the allocation of horses to the riders had been at the discretion of the respective owners.
Indeed, Moreno had originally been scheduled to ride Candelaria in the event at the center of the case, but the horse suffered an injury the day before the event and she was instead assigned Xime.
Darquea further confirmed that the parents of the riders and the riders themselves had left all matters relating to the horses, such as food, medication and training, to the horses’ owners.
Adolphsen also received a statement from Leonel Concha, who worked for Gaete. Concha explained that he was taking care of the horses for Gaete. A horse named Namibia was injured and he had been instructed to give the horse Finadyne, which contains flunixin, and phenylbutazone.
It was possible, he said, that he had mistakenly injected Xime, as the horses looked similar.
Concha said he had underestimated the matter since he was not aware of the FEI anti-doping rules and its potential consequences on individuals, and that he had not confessed his mistake earlier as he had been afraid of losing his job.
Adolphsen ruled that sufficient proof of a violation was established, saying he was satisfied the substances had been administered mistakenly.
“The tribunal therefore needs to examine the question of ‘no fault or negligence’ or ‘no significant fault or negligence’ for the rule violation,” he said.
Adolphsen, in his ruling, found that Gaete failed to demonstrate such lack of fault or negligence, and was generally liable for the actions taken by his employee.
He said Gaete should have trained Concha about the FEI’s anti-doping rules.
He felt that a 24-month ban was warranted, from the date of his decision. Gaete was also fined CHF2000. He was also ordered to contribute CHF1000 in legal costs for the judicial procedure.
Adolphsen acknowledged that Morena had not been a part of Xime’s training or management.
However, he did not see any reason to release Morena from her responsibility as the person responsible.
“The tribunal, however, is of the opinion that the person responsible only bears a minor degree of fault for the rule violation, given that it is uncontested that the custody and control of the horse was the responsibility of [Gaete] at all times.”
The tribunal imposed a warning on Morena and ordered her to contribute CHF500 towards the legal costs of the judicial procedure.