The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has issued final decisions in two cases involving the prohibited substance demecolcine after hearing that the presence of this substance can be the result of contamination due to the ingestion of the flower Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus.

These cases involve the horses Inception 2, ridden by German athlete Felix Etzel at the CCI1* in Wiener Neustadt, Milak, Austria, and Finest Quality V&K, ridden by Lebanese athlete Emile Karim Fares at the CSI3* in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Samples were taken from both horses in May 2017.

Demecolcine, which was previously a banned substance on the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List, was reclassified as a specified substance on Jan. 1. Specified substances are not any less important or less dangerous than other prohibited substances, but they are considered more likely for horses to consume for a purpose other than enhanced performance, for example, through a contaminated food substance. There is no known use for demecolcine in veterinary medicine and the autumn crocuc’ alkaloids are highly toxic.

The athletes were able to prove to the FEI Tribunal that the substance had entered the horses’ systems through ingesting hay contaminated with autumn crocus. They also established that they bore no fault or negligence for the rule violation and, as a result, the Tribunal ruled that no further sanctions should be imposed, other than the automatic disqualification of the horse and athlete from the competitions.

The athletes have 21 days to appeal these decisions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport from July 20, the date of notification.