Burges Salmon triumphs in horse doping tribunal

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22 September 2010

A Burges Salmon team led by Jeremy Dickerson and James Pheasant has secured an extremely rare ‘no fault no negligence’ ruling in a tribunal concerning a positive drug test of a professional rider’s horse.

On 14th September, the governing body for the equestrian discipline of Endurance racing, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), announced its finding of ‘no fault and no negligence’ in favour of Burges Salmon client Christine Yeoman.

This is one of only a handful of ‘No Fault and No Negligence’ rulings under the World Anti-Doping Code and is believed to be the first ever such finding  in a case involving contaminated feed and supplements. 

The case is of particular significance as the ruling made by the FEI Tribunal is potentially applicable to all sports under the ambit of the World Anti-Doping Code, not just equestrianism and the team expect the FEI Tribunal’s findings to be relied upon by athletes faced with doping allegations throughout the world.

The task faced by Mrs Yeoman and her legal team to prove her innocence and clear her name was enormous.  As well as having to demonstrate exactly how the substance entered her horse’s system, which was a task made particularly difficult by the obscurity of Ractopamine, Mrs Yeoman's legal team needed to show that there was nothing she could have done to avoid contact with the substance, something that had never been done before in a case involving a contaminated supplement. 

It has previously been thought that it may not practically be possible for an athlete to achieve a finding of No Fault and No Negligence in a case involving contaminated supplements. The Burges Salmon team have, however, succeeded in demonstrating that such cases can exist, thereby opening the door for athletes across all sports to argue in future that such a finding is also appropriate in their case. 

Further details of this case can be read in the October issue of World Sports Law Review

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