A Belgian jumping rider who turned down a “fast-track” fine for a colic-related controlled medication violation has been suspended for six-months by the FEI Tribunal.

Zachary de Lion Z , ride of Sybren De Pre, tested positive to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Meloxicam at the CSI** Zuidwolde in the Netherlands, in July 2017. The evening of arrival, the horse exhibited colic symptoms, so the show secretary was asked to call the duty veterinarian.

She visited 30 minutes later and, after examination, injected 30cc buscopan and 10 cc metacam. A discussion ensued about prohibited substances and the vet was claimed to have “checked the list” to establish metacam and buscopan were not included.

De Pre said four people could verify the vet assurances. He did not realise till later that the duty vet was not FEI approved.

“The only thing that we as owner/rider could do in this case was verify that the horse was not positive by means of asking the vet. If the vet tells me that this is not doping then I should have faith in the system and continue with the sport,” said De Pre.

“Every person in my situation would do the same as we did, so we are very disappointed that we get punished for something which is truly normal.”

However, Tribunal did not accept De Pre had carried out all duty of care; no reduction in sanctions was warranted. De Pre should have at least suspected the treatment might contain a prohibited substance, and carried out his own investigations. He should also have obtained a Veterinary Form 1; without it, show officials were unaware the horse had been treated and thus made no further assessment.

Tribunal added: “While it is unfortunate that the veterinarian provided inaccurate information with regard to the prohibition of the medications injected, the Tribunal also finds that the Person Responsible’s duty of care goes beyond merely relying on information received from veterinarians.

“There is also a universal legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he was unaware of its content.”

De Pre had declined the standard administrative sanction of disqualification, a fine of 1,500 Swiss francs ($2,000) and 1,000 Swiss francs in costs. Those same sanctions have also been applied in addition to the suspension.

This is the second time in two weeks that riders who declined the “administrative sanction” in the hope of clearing their name at Tribunal ended up with a more substantial penalty.

The full decision can be read here.