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Equine anti-doping

Our national equine anti-doping programme seeks to protect the welfare of horse competing in our sport. It's also intended to maintain the integrity of our sport by protecting the right of all athletes to participate in fair competition on a level playing field. To find out more about human anti-doping, click here.

The equine anti-doping and controlled medication information provided here aims to equip everyone involved with competition horses with all of the information they need to ensure that they and their horses remain within the rules.

If you are a member of British Dressage, British Equestrian Vaulting, British Eventing, British Carriage Driving, British Showjumping, Endurance GB and British Reining, you have a responsibility to know, understand and follow our equine anti-doping rules.

BRITISH EQUESTRIAN RULES – EQUINE ANTI-DOPING AND CONTROLLED MEDICATION

BEFAR

BEFAR is the shorthand term used to refer to our national Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Rules. BEFAR replicates, so far as is possible, the Federation Equestre Internationale’s (FEI) equine anti-doping and controlled medication regulations (EADCMR), which in turn are based upon the World Anti-Doping Code. 

Most medicines and drugs are prohibited if detected in a horse at the time of competition. This ruling is based on the FEI’s philosophy that a horse should compete on its own merits, without any unfair advantage that might follow the use of drugs. It's also to prevent horses damaging their athletic potential as a result of drugs masking unīŦtness, lameness or disease.

BEFAR is designed to deal with two separate issues:

  1. The doping of horses. The use of artificial enhancements to gain an advantage over others in competition is cheating, and is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of any sport. The presence of doping in sport not only undermines the fairness and credibility of each competitive event, but in the long term can have a serious effect on the credibility and viability of the sport in question. 
  2. Inappropriate medication during competition. It is essential for the welfare of the horse that it is given appropriate veterinary treatment if and when required, and that this should include appropriate medication. Medication, however, may mask an underlying health problem and may adversely affect the long-term health of the horse. Horses should not compete when taking medication where such medication may have a detrimental effect on the horse’s welfare.

Equine prohibited substances list

On 1January each year, the FEI publishes an 'Equine Prohibited Substances List' (EPSL). This list applies to all horses and ponies competing in any national or international competition. 

The list enables Persons Responsible (PRs) for the horse – the rider, owner, groom, parent etc – to check that they aren't treating or feeding horses with substances that are prohibited for use during competition, and substances that are not permitted for use in the horse at any time.

The prohibited substance list is made up of two categories...

  • Banned Substances are substances that are deemed by the FEI to have no legitimate use in the competition horse and/or have a high potential for abuse. They are not permitted for use in the competition horse at any time
  • Controlled Medication are substances that are deemed by the FEI to have therapeutic value and/or be commonly used in equine medicine. Controlled Medication have the potential to affect performance and/or be a welfare risk to the horse

The most recent copy of the FEI Prohibited Substances List is available below. You can also search for substances using the FEI Prohibited Substances database

FEI Prohibited Substances List 2020

We also recommend that you download the FEI Clean Sport app to your mobile device, which will allow you to check the Prohibited Substances database when you're on the go. 

Treating horses pre-competition

The welfare of the horse is paramount, and no horse should be competing while on medication. Any medication given prior to the horse competing must not be present in the horse’s system on the day of competition. It is therefore important to know the difference between detection and withdrawal times. We recommend the PR for the horse always takes veterinary advice before administering any medication.

  • Detection time is the approximate period for which a drug (or its metabolite) remains in a horse's system such that it can be detected by the laboratory
  • Withdrawal time is the arbitrary period decided by the treating vet, based on the detection time plus a safety margin

The FEI publish a list of useful detection times, which can be found in the document below.

FEI list of Detection times 

The British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) also publish a list of withdrawal and detection times, but this should be used as a guide only.

BHA list of detection and withdrawal times

Anti-doping Violations

An anti-doping rule violation is a breach of one, or more, of nine anti-doping rule violations an athlete or support person can commit under BEFAR.

Under BEFAR, there are nine types of violation that can lead to sanctions being imposed on the rider, or others who fall within the scope of BEFAR. These include...

  1. Presence of a prohibited substance, or its metabolites or markers, in a horse’s sample. This means that your horse tests positive for a prohibited substance.
  2. Use or attempted use of a prohibited substance. This means that if you're caught using, or trying to use, something prohibited, a case may be brought against you, even if your horse’s sample is not tested or comes back negative for any prohibited substances.
  3. Refusing to submit to sample collection after notification, or otherwise evading sample collection. If you refuse to have your horse sampled, do not present your horse for testing after notification, or you hide from the testing representatives, a case may be brought against you.
  4. Tampering. If you tamper with your horse’s bodily sample, such as trying to replace it with another horse’s sample or interfering with clean collection, then a case may be brought against you.
  5. Possession. If you have banned substances in your possession at a competition, a case may be brought against you. There is no possession violation for controlled medication.
  6. Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, or covering up or any other type of complicity in violating BEFAR regulations could result in a case being brought against you.

Persons responsible

The 'Person Responsible' for the horse is normally the competitor who rides or drives the horse during an event, but the owner and other support personnel, including grooms and veterinarians, may be regarded as additional persons responsible. In vaulting, the lunger is an additional Person Responsible.

In the case of a borrowed horse, even if the owner is considered as a Person Responsible under BEFAR, this does not discharge the rider of his or her responsibility. Therefore, riding a borrowed horse necessitates the rider ensuring that they have full information on all possible treatments and medications that have been administered to the horse.

In the case of a rider, driver, or vaulter who is under the age of 18, their parent or legal guardian will be the Person Responsible on their behalf. However, the young person will still be eliminated from the relevant competition if a Prohibited Substance is found or a BEFAR rule violated.

The BEFAR Testing Programme

BEFAR and its associated testing programme are managed and administered centrally by us on behalf of the Member Bodies. All positive cases are dealt with through the results management provisions in BEFAR, with cases being heard and determined by our Hearing Body.

The BEF publishes a list of negative results, as well as a BEFAR case status table that lists positive cases and the sanctions that have been applied.

Equine negative results 2020

BEFAR CASE STATUS TABLE 2011-2019

international level

If you're competing under international rules in the UK or abroad, you will need to refer to the FEI Clean Sport website for information before and during competition. It provides a range of information on equine anti-doping, including a short video on the equine Anti-Doping rules.