The United States Equestrian Federation is facing an administrative hearing arising out of the association’s anti-doping provision for therapeutic substances. Petitioners connected to the hunter/jumper mare Fonteyn are asking a New York court to find USEF was arbitrary, capricious, and not supported by substantial evidence in its finding of a GR 410 violation.
The petitioners include Florida horse trainer Thomas Wright and the owner of Fonteyn, John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC, of Tennessee. Exhibited in the $250 High Performance Working Hunter U/S at WEF 6 Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC Horse Show in February 2014, lab tests taken from Fonteyn’s urine sample showed the presence of 2-(2hydrozyethel) promazine sulfoxide, or HEPS, at a concentration of 5.1 ng/ml.
HEPS is a metabolite of acepromazine, better known as Ace, which is known to have therapeutic benefits in horses and act as a tranquilizer, even in small doses. USEF’s lab did not detect any Ace in the mare’s blood. The petitioners were charged for violating USEF Rule 410, the anti-doping provision for therapeutic substances, which does not follow a zero tolerance policy. USEF’s threshold of enforcement starts at 2 ng/ml of HEPS in urine.
The 2 ng/ml utilized in the case is not specified in GR 410, USEF’s rules or made available to members, according to court documents. “The lack of transparency regarding the SLODs [screening limits of detection] the Federation selects and uses as the basis for its enforcement of GR 410 runs contrary to basic notions of notice and due process, and seriously calls into question the fairness of the Federation’s enforcement scheme.”
USEF states it utilizes the 2 ng/ml metabolite measure because that is the baseline the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) uses. The Federation’s expert witness Dr. Maylin stated during the petitioners’ May 2015 hearing that there is no scientific evidence showing 2 ng/ml of HEPS in urine can effect the performance of a horse. The petitioners cited studies showing that HEPS concentrations need to be at least 10 ng/ml to have an affect on a horse’s performance, but the Hearing Committee disagreed.
Wright testified the administration of Ace to Fonteyn likely occurred through cross-contamination. His veterinarian’s affidavit said a mare in the adjacent stall to Fonteyn was being administered Ace granules due to a tendon injury and stall rest. Wright said he has instituted proper precautions since the incident.
The petitioners two-month suspension is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2016. Wright was fined $2,000 and the mare’s owner had to return all prizes and pay the show $300. Now they are asking the court to vacate the USEF Hearing Committee’s finding that they violated Rule GR 410 and are seeking litigation costs including attorneys’ fees.
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