Andreas Helgstrand has lost the bronze medal he won at the 2023 Danish Dressage Championship following a decision of the Danish Equestrian Federation's appeal committee.
On 19 September 2023, the Danish Riding Association's appeal committee decided that Andreas Helgstrand violated point 23 of the DRF's General Regulations. His horse Jovian was treated without previous approval of a DRF Veterinary Consultant. The rider has been disqualified from the Danish Championship Freestyle class on Sunday 4 June 2023, and must return received prizes, as well as pay a fine of DKK 5,000.
The Danish equestrian magazine Ridehesten.com summarised the case as following:
At the 2023 Danish Dressage Championships at Helgstrand Academy in Uggerhalne, Andreas' horse Jovian (by Apache x Tango) had a mild and non life-threatening case of colic on the evening of Saturday 3 June and treatment was started. The horse was treated with two different drugs in its own stable on the show ground.
After the treatment, the attending veterinarian sent an e-mail at 22h04 to the Danish Riding Association's veterinary consultant Mette Uldahl. Mette Uldahl only saw this email at the end of the day on Sunday, after the finals at the Danish championship for seniors had taken place.
According to the appeal committee's ruling, no attempt was made to contact Mette Uldahl by telephone, nor was the TD's approval sought for treatment prior to the start of Sunday's class. The medicine was given through a tube and the horse was moved for the rest of the evening. Within an hour, Jovian started eating again, and for the rest of the night he behaved normally.
On Monday 5 June, additional information was sent to the veterinary consultant, such as the doses used to treat Jovian. According to the ruling, the rider, Andreas Helgstrand, did not know about the treatment until Tuesday, June 6, when he was informed that a complaint had been filed.
Breach of DRF Rule 23
- A horse has been medicated at a competition venue, without the required assessment and permission from DRF's veterinary consultant
- There has been medicated with drugs that would not be approved for the indicated problem (mild colic), as the drugs are not approved for this use. This is thus off-label use under the direct personal responsibility of the veterinarian.
- One of the drugs given (Traumeel) is primarily aimed at treating pain and inflammatory conditions in the musculoskeletal system.
- Fluid (medicine, etc.) has been administered via tube, which the horse thus does not voluntarily consume.
- Horses must not take part in equestrian events under the influence of pain-relieving, performance-enhancing, stimulating or sedative substances, and that horses must not be given liquid in any form, other than what they themselves voluntarily consume. If there is a need for medication of horses at a showground in Denmark, permission for this must be obtained from DRF's veterinary consultant prior to the treatment, unless it is a serious or life-threatening situation for the horse.
In his defence, Helgstrand argued that:
- The two preparations are not on the FEI's doping list
- That 500 ml of Duphalyte is not a liquid treatment for a horse of 180 cm at the withers and with an estimated weight of 600-700 kg, as the FEI defines liquid treatment as treatment with a minimum of 10 litres.
- That administration of the two drugs by tube is not a violation of the Danish Riding Association's Common Regulations point 23.
- That the Danish Riding Association follows FEI's rules
- That two TDs have passed the horse in the stable corridor while the vet was looking at the horse.
On 19 September 2023 the Danish Riding Association's appeal committee ruled:
The Danish Dressage Championships for seniors are a Danish event held under the Danish Riding Association and on Danish soil. It is therefore the Danish Riding Association's regulations that must be observed. Therefore, it is against the Danish Riding Association's regulations that the horse was treated for mild colic in its box without prior permission from the veterinary consultant.
The fact that two TDs passed by the box while the vet was treating the horse cannot be accepted. In the end, according to the regulations, it is always the rider's responsibility to comply with the regulations. At the same time, the appeals committee finds it striking that a dose of the drug Traumeel four times larger than the recommended dose has been used.
Andreas Helgstrand is hereby disqualified from Sunday's final class and must return the prizes and pay a fine of DKK 5,000.
(editor's note: The bronze medal will nowmost likely go to the fourth ranked rider: Anna Kasprzak on Addict de Massa.)
Statement of the Treating Vet
Ridehesten also published a statement of the treating vet, Jonas Rasmussen from Højgaard Horse Hospital.
"I was summoned by Andreas' groom and saw the horse in its box at the showground around 21, while two technical delegates passed by. The horse was given the homeopathic medicine Traumeel and electrolytes in the product Duphalyte in a tube. None of these products are on the FEI's doping list."
"I then wrote an email to the Danish Riding Association's veterinary consultant and informed them about what had happened. There was no response to the email, and Jovian with Andreas rode the DM final on Sunday and got a medal.
"On Tuesday 6 June 2023, Andreas, who until then was not aware of the inspection on the evening of 3 June, was sued before the DRF's Appeals Committee by the DRF's veterinary consultant. I was not sued.
"The DRF's Appeal Committee has now decided that Jovian and Andreas' DM medal will be taken away from them and that Andreas must pay a fine of DKK 5,000.00.
"I should have notified the DRF veterinary consultant before administering the drugs and not immediately after.
"As the person solely responsible for what happened, I do not understand the ruling at all, and I am really sorry on Andreas' behalf. I still think I did the right thing for the horse in the situation."
Full statement on Ridehesten
Photos © Ridehesten - Astrid Appels