Kürten appeals, but suspension ‘likely’ to go ahead

JESSICA KÜRTEN yesterday filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the two-month suspension imposed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) as a result of the banned medication found in the horse Castle Forbes Maike.

However, it may have come too late to halt the suspension, which is due to commence tomorrow, according to the FEI.

“As of Saturday, June 7th, Ms Kürten is suspended, but she has to apply for a provisional measure from CAS to lift the suspension,” said FEI communications manager Malina Gueorguiev yesterday evening.

“We will know Friday if an appeal has been filed and whether a request for a provisional measure has been made by Ms Kürten.

“The suspension is a separate procedure for CAS and we believe that it will not be decided on Friday.

“So, it is very likely that, as of June 7th, she will be suspended.”

Kurten was due to compete at Gelderland in the Netherlands this weekend and her appeal was delivered to the CAS offices in Lausanne yesterday according to her lawyer Ulf Walz, who reiterated that Kürten is the victim of an injustice.

“There are many questions that have to be answered and the case is very technical. If it takes a year, so be it, as it is our wish that the case is treated seriously,” he said.

The two-month suspension was imposed on Kürten after the mare Maike tested positive for etoricoxib a year ago at La Baule, France, where the German-based Antrim rider won the grand prix. The substance is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and is considered a minor infringement, with the FEI initially offering Kürten the option of a fine of 750 Swiss francs and forfeiture of her €22,000 grand prix prize.

However, voicing her innocence, she waived the option.

Mr Walz yesterday criticised the FEI for not revealing the quantity of etoricoxib found in Maike. He said testing had become so refined that laboratories were detecting levels of substances that, rather than they being administered to the horse, had in fact been picked up from the environment.

“They found small substances of the same substance in water in eastern Switzerland and, in Berlin, they have found traces of medications in the water,” he said, explaining that, as such, it was important to know the concentration of etoricoxib in Maike.

He described the FEI’s zero-tolerance policy as “crazy”.

In the past, Mr Walz has claimed Kürten was the victim of gross procedural error, in particular saying that the FEI was wrong to ban Kürten’s representative from witnessing the analysis of the B urine sample in Paris. This, he claimed, breached World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

A spokesperson for CAS was not in a position yesterday to confirm receipt of the appeal, but said that, in general, when an appeal was lodged, it took four months for a hearing date to be set.

However, the spokesperson said CAS rules contained a clause that allowed a procedure to be expedited if both parties wished.

CAPTAIN GEOFF CURRAN’S win with Kilkishen in the World Cup Qualifier at Tattersalls last weekend has certainly given eventing high-performance manager Ginny Elliot food for thought as she mulls over her Olympic hopefuls.

But ask Capt Curran if he is confident he has done enough to merit a ticket to the Games in Hong Kong and the Waterford rider takes the diplomatic route.

“Definitely, it won’t do me any harm and it has put me up the priority list than I was beforehand,” he said yesterday. “We showed that when the pressure was on we both came good, which must have improved our situation,” he said, pointing out that Kilkishen “now has had three top-10 placings in international three-star competitions, coming 10th in Burnham Market and third in Tyrella CIC three-star”.

Capt Curran opened his Tattersall’s challenge on a good note, lying fifth on Friday night after dressage on 45.2 penalties. He then jumped a clear cross-country at the expense of eight time faults on Saturday to move up to third.

A former show jumper, his experience at the discipline paid dividends when he finished with just four faults to turn the screw on the two above him: Australia’s Clayton Fredericks, riding Ben Along Time, and Kiwi Andrew Nicholson on Lord Killinghurst.

Both are targeting the Olympics with their horses, but a Tattersall’s show jumping course that saw only one clear round severely punished Fredericks who added 19 faults to his score.

However, overnight leader Nicholson kept Curran sweating. Using up the two fences he had in hand early on, he waited until the last fence before relinquishing his hold on the competition to finish on a score of 57.6 penalties, 0.4 more than Curran.

The 28-year-old Army rider had finished runner-up in the World Cup qualifier at Ballindenisk in 2006.

THE naming by team manager Robert Splaine of Ireland’s individual Olympic show jumper on Tuesday was postponed as a result of an illness in the Corkman’s family.

No new date has been set, but under the rules, Splaine has until the end of June to select Ireland’s representative.


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