Wednesday 22 March 2017

Equestrian: Olympic council ups stakes to prevent doping scandals

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) is keeping the pressure on Irish equestrian sport's governing body, Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), to ensure there is no repeat of the show jumping doping controversies that have dogged Ireland's last two Olympic Games, writes LOUISE PARKES.

On Monday, OCI president Pat Hickey and HSI chairman Joe Walsh signed a joint agreement setting out new measures that will be put in place between now and London 2012.

They include a medication and anti-doping logbook in which riders are expected to list "every product or substance they use on their horse in the lead up to the games", an educational programme for riders designed to ensure a clear understanding of the FEI's anti-doping programme and rules and the creation of a joint steering group.

Denis Lynch, who was disqualified from the show jumping final in Hong Kong in 2008, and Cian O'Connor, who had to forfeit the gold medal he won in Athens in 2004 after a positive test on Waterford Crystal, have both been named on the Irish team for the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) which get under way at the end of next month.

Lynch has been listed with Lantinus, his Beijing Olympic ride, and Nabab's Son, while O'Connor has been named with his new horse, K Club Lady, with which he jumped double-clear to clinch the coveted Nations Cup in Aachen last month.

It had been widely expected that the Aachen squad would represent Ireland at the WEG but team manager Robert Splaine has been forced into a rethink because the form of Dermott Lennon and Shane Breen "has slipped of late".

Lennon's horse, Hallmark Elite, was growing in strength and stature with every outing until taking a horrible fall at the water fence in Hickstead two weeks ago and it was clear by his reaction to the water during the Dublin Horse Show that the horse has not yet regained his confidence.

One man whose form remains absolutely intact is Billy Twomey, who has been named with Tinka's Serenade and Je T'Aime Flamenco.

Jessica Kuerten and Castle Forbes Libertina are available for selection and team vet Marcus Swail has been briefed on the injury that has kept the mare out of action over the last few months.

The reserve rider spot may go to US-based Darragh Kenny or Shane Sweetnam.

Irish Independent

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