The main recommendations in the report are:
- The establishment by Horse Sport Ireland of a new National Medication and Anti Doping Testing Programme in Ireland. The group felt that the current arrangements were ineffective.
- The introduction of a new licensing system for riders at National level linked to the completion of certain educational courses. Currently being a member of a Horse Sport Ireland affiliate generally confers a right to participate in equestrian events.
- A requirement being placed on every international rider to keep a detailed log book of all medications and products they, their vet or their groom administers to their international horses. In the special case of the Olympic Games, riders will have to supply this to Horse Sport Ireland and the Olympic Council of Ireland 60 days prior to the competition. After this date they will require express permission from the Team Veterinarian to give any substance to their horse.
- A proposal that a list of prohibited practices be drawn up and that Horse Sport Ireland would seek to have these outlawed as part of the new animal welfare legislation being developed by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In addition it is proposed that as part of the rider licence, Horse Sport Ireland would be entitled to enter yards and training grounds to investigate any allegations of wrong doing by participants in the sector.
- The report also contains detailed recommendations in relation to a new disciplinary and penalty structure, including the use of disciplinary and appeal panel members from other countries.
Dr Gordon Holmes, who is also the current Chairman of the Parole Board and the Garda complaints board, said that during the course of their work concerns were expressed about a lax culture that had crept into the sector in relation to prohibited substances and practices and that this needed to be addressed firmly.
“We believe that the recommendations in the report are straightforward and can be readily implemented. It is clear that there is a real sense within the sector that action is needed,” he said.
In relation to international riders, Dr Holmes said that there was clearly a need to put measures in place to give team officials greater oversight over riders.
“The new log book will require riders to declare everything they administer to their horse and if they then end up in trouble there will be no excuses available. Horse Sport Ireland can request to see this logbook at any reasonable time and we have recommended special arrangements in the lead up an Olympic Games,” he said
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman Joe Walsh thanked Dr Holmes and the members of the expert group for their work and said that Horse Sport Ireland would be moving to implement the report without delay.
“Later today this report will be forwarded to our rules committee and they will begin the process of enshrining the recommendations into our rule book. The affiliate bodies will also need to amend their rule books. I would expect all of these recommendations, including the new Anti Doping and Medication Testing Programme, to be fully operational by the end of the year,” he said.
Dr Holmes made particular reference to Team Ireland Chef de Mission Dermot Henihan, representing the OCI , for his contribution and said that ” the intention of the report is to ensure that compliance with all medication and anti doping rules and regulations are strictly adhered to. A number of Mr Henihan’s suggestions are embodied in the report and we are grateful for his input.”