April 23 - The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has disqualified Jonathan Paget from the standings of last September's Burghley International Horse Trials after his horse Clifton Promise tested positive for a banned substance.
An FEI Tribunal today issued a partial decision in the case, which also revealed that winner Paget had, in fact, asked equestrian sport's world governing body to disqualify him, with the result seeing his compatriot and three-time Olympic medallist Andrew Nicholson gifted with the title and, ultimately, the Rolex Grand Slam.
"A ruling on the automatic disqualification from the event in advance of a full hearing was of importance for the reputation and integrity of the sport, and in order to gain clarity over the winner of the event in advance of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, scheduled to commence on 7 May 2014," the FEI Tribunal said in its ruling.
Paget did not contest the presence of the banned tranquiliser reserpine in his horse, which was found following a blood test on September 8 last year and subsequently verified by B sample.
But, a statement released in October by Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) - which today "welcomed" the ruling - said the athlete "and all relevant parties state categorically that none of them have taken any actions with the intent of administering any prohibited substance".
Paget submitted evidence explaining and supporting his claim of "no fault and no negligence" in January, which he will present at the full hearing of the FEI Tribunal in London on June 3.
"Paget is clear that all presently available evidence shows that neither he nor anyone else knew of the presence of the banned substance, before the sample was taken," ESNZ insisted today but admitted that as the "Person Responsible" for Clifton Promise at the Burghley Horse Trials, the London 2012 bronze medallist accepts that a rule violation has occurred.
"In his case, UK-based Paget is aware that the ongoing uncertainty with regard to the Burghley title is having a detrimental effect on the sport of eventing and especially the build-up to the first two major events of the Northern Hemisphere season, this weekend's Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (May 8-11)," the national governing body added.
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October 2013: Second horse at Burghley fails drug test for same banned substance
October 2013: Olympic bronze medallist Paget suspended after horse tests positive for banned substance