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Vet Tim Ober Speaks Out in Support of FEI Progressive Drug List

US team veterinarian Dr. Timothy Ober. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

US team veterinarian Dr. Timothy Ober. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

American veterinarian Timothy R. Ober spoke out Monday in support of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) list that allows the use of small quantities of anti-inflammatory drugs that will come into effect in a month.

Midge Leitch, a former U.S. equestrian team veterinarian who is the staff vet in radiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s world famous New Bolton center near Philadelphia, on Friday came out strongly in support of the newly approved so-called Progressive List. It will allow the practice of “good horsemanship, common sense and modern veterinary medicine in our approach to horse care,” she said in a statement to dressage-news.com.

Dr. Ober of Gordonsville, Virginia, making his statement to dressage-news.com from “my independent perspective,” said:

“As a treating veterinarian working with jumping and dressage horses, it is my job to ensure that a horse stays healthy and sound through multiple competitions and over the course of time.

“I have had the opportunity to work under a rather permissive American system, as well as an excessively restrictive FEI system during the last 10 years. By permitting low levels of a single anti-inflammatory medication, under a strictly supervised control of limited administration, the new policy of the FEI gets it right.

“Horses will have access to help with the aches and pains of competition, without the addition of treatment that influences the principle of fair play.

“WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) allows unrestricted use of the same kind of anti-inflammatory medication in human sport because these medications are not performance enhancing.

“There is no reason to think differently about anti-inflammatory use in horses, especially at low doses administered at least 12 hours from competition, and under veterinary supervision.

“This is an opportunity to improve the level of care of the sport horse.”

The Progressive List was approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) General Assmbly in Copenhagen earlier this month, by a vote  of 53 in favor, 42 against and seven abstentions.

A review of the FEI lists was undertaken as part of high level reports on horse sports following the 2008 Olympics in which one dressage rider and five jumper riders were suspended after prohibited substances were detected in their horses.

The controversy has focused on allowances for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including 8mcg/ml of phenylbutazone in plasma and serum, 750 mcg/ml in urine and up to 6.5 mcg/ml in plasma and serum of salicilyic acid, up to 500mcg/ml in plasma/serum of flunixin and allows acetycysteine/dichloracetate and isoxuprine.

Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States as well as several international vets and veterinary organizations and the organizers of the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany have come out against enactment of the list set for Jan. 1, 2010. A petition in English, French, Spanish and German, www.no-fei.com, on the Internet calling for the list not to be implemented had about 400 names as of Friday.

FEI President Princess Haya has stated there would be no new vote.

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