(Update: Equi-Block names as culprit)
Appears several horses caused trouble at the Beijing Olympic games after some hot tamales. The dressage regulatory body (FEI) put out preliminary suspension notices against the steeds for using capsaicin -- the ingredient in peppers. The compound can also be used medicinally, in horses as a pain-relief skin cream. It is considered dressage doping. To the CBC:
Horses aren't so easily treated for what ails them at the Olympic Games.
A sprinter with sore legs can pop an Aspirin before the final Olympic heat. A paddler nursing a shoulder injury can get permission to take cortisone to ease pain before a race.
However, if a horse with a bruise or leg pain takes a special giant-sized Aspirin made for the animal, it's game over. Disqualification. Elimination from Olympic competition.
No trips for some spicy food, and we all know how horses love spicy Tex-Mex.
That's why it comes as no surprise when horses get busted for drugs.
It happened Thursday at the Beijing Games, where horses from Norway, Ireland, Brazil and Germany were all found with capsaicin in their blood. The drug, in the form of a cream rubbed into the skin, is prohibited for its pain-relieving properties.
Norway's Tony Andre Hansen and his horse Camiro, Lantinus from Ireland, ridden by Dennis Lynch, Brazil's Chupa Cup, ridden by Bernardo Alves, and Germany's Coster, ridden by Christian Ahlmann, were all suspended.
CBC Sports analyst Beth Underhill has suspicions that the drug was not given to relieve pain, but was administered because it causes "hypersensitivity" to a horse's legs and would make the animal more cautious on the jumps, and less likely to hit a jump and incur a fault.
"It's a pretty shocking revelation that's happening here," she said following Thursday's news of positive drug tests. "These riders are sophisticated and are very knowledgeable. As I said, the testing has become so sophisticated it's quite possible that they just made a mistake, but I find it shocking that they would take that kind of risk."
Sounds like everyone went in on this together. Oops. Too much horsing around.
Performance enhancing or not, the nature of a drug does not matter. The strict testing, Gallagher says, is to ensure the welfare of the horses.
"The idea is these horses can't tell their riders if they' re in pain," he says. "They can't express if they can endure the pain with an Aspirin, or if they need to be pulled out of the competition. That's why if a horse has any kind of injury, he must be removed from the Games. It's as simple as that."
The suspension of the horse and rider immediately gets people thinking of foul play, but Gallagher stresses that' s not always the case. A horse given Aspirin one week before the Games could test positive because it' s not yet out of his system by the time testing happens.
"We'll have a positive drug test, and everybody will go, 'Oh my God, how did this happen?'" Gallagher says. "Nobody was giving this horse drugs, not usually. You find out the horse had a little cut, and the groom decided to put some ointment on that cut and it turns out there's something in that ointment that nobody knew was banned.
"You have to be very, very careful."
FEI Press Release after the jump. (International Equestrian Federation)
The following combinations will not be competing in the Jumping individual final competition held tonight (Thursday, 21 August). They have been provisionally suspended by the FEI further to doping/medication control tests that indicated the presence of capsaicin in each horse.
Bernardo Alves (BRA) Chupa Chup
Christian Ahlmann (GER) Cöster
Denis Lynch (IRL) Latinus
Tony Andre Hansen (NOR) Camiro
Capsaicin is classified as a« doping » prohibited substance given its hypersensitizing properties, and as a « medication class A » prohibited substance for its pain relieving properties.
As previously communicated, the FEI provisionally suspends all competitors who test positive in doping or positive medication cases at the Olympic Games in the interests of the integrity of the sport.