LONDON (AFP) –
Saudi Arabia’s hopes of Olympic showjumping glory this summer could be hit hard amid a doping probe into two of the country’s top jumpers, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Khaled Al Eid, a bronze medalist at the 2000 Sydney Games, and Abdullah Sharbatly, world silver medalist in 2010, face Wednesday and Thursday International Equestrian Federation tribunals in Lausanne and may miss the Games after winter tests of their mounts produced positive results for use of banned anti-inflammation products.
The products concerned – phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone – are alleged to have been used prior to World Cup qualifiers in Riyadh and Al Ain .
The pair were temporarily suspended back in February after the tests on Al Eid’s Vanhoeve and Al Sharbatly’s Lobster 43.
The Federation tribunals usually hand down decisions within 30 days of hearings, it pointed out in a statement carried on web portal Rue89, which said three judges are to hear the cases.
With a maximum suspension of two years the riders could see their hopes of appearing in London scuppered.
According to the Telegraph, Arab nations have spent millions of dollars in recent years to buy proven Grand Prix jumpers for as much as 10 million dollars each while also bankrolling European bases for top riders.
In addition, the region has started hosting lucrative competitions, with the 2012 Global Champions Tour opening in Doha last month.
The Telegraph also reported that of 23 positive dope cases currently being investigated, 16 involve horses from Arab states.