Top Guatemalan show jumper Alvaro Enrique Tejada Arriola has been suspended for 12 months after his horse Dolly Pala Blanco tested positive to a banned vasodilator, Diisopropylamine, on July 29th at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Bogota.
Veterinarian Dr Mariajose Camas Orantes admitted administering the drug without the rider’s presence or knowledge, intending to assist the horse which was tiring in the high altitude. But while the FEI Tribunal accepted this happened without Tejada Arriola’s knowledge and he thus bore “no significant fault,” riders remain responsible for the actions of all parties handling their horse.
Last November, the FEI Tribunal removed Tejada Arriola’s individual bronze from the event after his horse tested positive on the final day of competition. But in an unusual twist, Tribunal decided Guatemala would keep its team bronze because Dolly Pala Blanco tested clean immediately after the team contest on July 26th.
This second hearing was held to determine sanctions for the positive returned on July 29th, after the individual competition. The suspension – six months shorter than requested by the FEI Legal department – was backdated to July 2018. The rider was also fined 3,000 Swiss francs (about $3,000) and ordered to pay 2,000 Swiss francs in costs.
The Tribunal heard the banned substance was administered via a Mexican product, Top B15+3. The manufacturers Laboratoros Tornel described it as an injectable “restorative nutraceutical” containing “Sodium Pangamate (Vitamin B15)” and that it is an “invigorating and adjuvant solution recommended for the restorage [sic] of convalescent animals that have undergone surgery, infectious process or malnourishment.”
Diisopropylamine was not on the label though FEI legal said there was sufficient other information to make the user cautious.
Considerable expert debate centred around whether Diisopropylamine Dichloroacetate is a precursor of Pangamic acid. The FEI’s expert, Professor Stuart Paine, also said B15 is not a real vitamin; this was an “old trick to get Diisopropylamine in to the horse under the guise of a vitamin.”
Dr Orantes is the horse’s regular vet, the Guatemalan team vet and an accredited FEI treating vet, so there was dispute about her exact status at Bogota. There were also questions why she gave the product orally in a syrup. The FEI legal department felt this was either “highly unlikely” or showed “great lack of knowledge.”
Tejada Arriola argued unsuccessfully for an early resolution as he hoped to compete in qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games. If his provisional suspension prevented a return to competition soon his business might have to shut. He had already suffered serious harm, affecting career prospects and hard-earned reputation.
He also said that as the violation was “brought about by a FEI veterinarian appointed by the national federation to act as the official team veterinarian at the competition” it would be “unconscionable and unfair to allow the FEI to sanction the PR [rider].”
FEI countered that “any veterinarian using a substance being a supplement without exactly knowing what it is, imported from Mexico, for the first time on the day of competition during an important event, was highly at fault. The PR was responsible for choosing his veterinarian and no fault cannot apply only because another person administered the banned substance.”