Equestrian: Drug result pointed reminder to riders

By David Leggat

Irrespective of the outcome of horseman Jock Paget's hearing over a banned substance found in his horse, there are strong reminders for the New Zealand eventing community.

Paget will face an International Equestrian Federation judicial tribunal in Lausanne after the B sample taken from his Badminton and Burghley-winning horse Clifton Promise tested positive to Reserpine, a sedative used to help recovery from lengthy injuries.

Paget was advised on October 14 the A sample from the Burghley test in September had been positive. He now has 21 days to prepare his dossier of evidence explaining how the drug got into the horse's system.

New Zealand has a large number of riders either at the top of the three-day eventing game based in the United Kingdom - such as double Olympic champion Mark Todd, world No1 Andrew Nicholson, Caroline Powell, Jonelle Richards and Clarke Johnstone - or in the up-and-coming category.

Equestrian Sport New Zealand boss Jim Ellis said yesterday that Paget's experience was a sobering reminder of the obligations on riders.

"That's a process we've been going through with all those riders," Ellis said.

"It's a salient lesson to all people in the sport. We are strong supporters of Clean Sport (FEI anti-doping programme), the rules are clear around what can and can't be in horses systems and it's difficult with horses, there's no question about that."

Ellis said it is unlikely the hearing will take place before the latter part of the first quarter of next year, leaving Paget's ability to earn a living down to private lessons. He was stood down by EQNZ, as per FEI regulations, when the A sample failed.

"If there is a silver lining it's that it is the European off-season, so having missed the final event in France (the Pau four-star late last month) there isn't any competition until March," Ellis said.

In a statement Paget, part of New Zealand's bronze medal-winning team at last year's London Olympics and world No3 at the time of the Burghley win, said he is confident of providing a comprehensive explanation to the FEI.

Ellis backs Paget's positive stance.

"We do have real confidence that Jock can present a really plausible and persuasive case to the FEI," he said.

- NZ Herald

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