The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has announced two adverse analytical findings involving prohibited substances.

Samples taken at the CEI1* in Doha, Qatar, on April 22 from the winning horse Centurion, ridden by Abdulla Mubarak Rashed Al Khaili, of the United Arab Emirates, have returned positive for human erythropoietin (EPO, a banned substance under the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations).

Samples taken at the same event from the second place finisher Sur (Mabrouk), ridden by Mohd Butti Ghemran Al Qubaisi, also of the United Arab Emirates, returned positive for human EPO, as well.

A peptide hormone that is produced naturally in the body, EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, EPO has been banned as a performance enhancing substance for human athletes since the early 1990s, but a reliable testing method was not in place until 2000. The FEI banned EPO’s use in horses in 2010.

“EPO is well known in human endurance sports in which an increased number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells is an advantage, but the substance has little benefit in equestrian sport and this is the first time we have seen FEI horses testing positive for EPO,” said FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström, DVM. “Horses have a large natural reserve of red blood cells stored in their spleen, and the use of EPO would actually have a negative effect in many horse