By Duncan Mackay


November 25 - The doping row that is threatening to divide equestrian took another twist today when Aachen, the world's most prestigious horse show, announced that next year's event will continue to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

It is a direct challenge to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) who last week took the controversial decision to allow the reintroduction of some non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, including bute, to treat horses.

Germany had led the opposition to last week's decision at the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen to allow the controlled use of phenylbutazone [bute], which was originally banned 20 years ago because of the potential side-effects, including causing ulcers.

Frank Kemperman, the chairman of the FEI's Dressage Committee and chairman of Aachen's managing board, said: "The FEI's decision is a contradiction to our ideal of the sport."

The subject of drugs in equestrian is particularly sensitive in Germany following a series of scandals involving top riders there that has led to sponsors and television withdrawing its support of the sport.

Aachen's tough stance is backed by the results of a survey in July, in which event visitors were interviewed by representatives of the German University of Sport, Cologne.

The survey showed that 89 per cent of the visitors are convinced that the organisers there are doing all they can to fight doping.

That is being supported by sponsors.

The Deutsche Bank, which has been supporting the event for 52 years, has extended its contract with organisers for another three years.

The bank is also traditional partner and title sponsor of the Deutsche Bank Prize, the dressage competition with the highest prize money in the world.

Deutsche Bank General Manager Michael Mronz said: "We do not want to have unsound or injured horses in our sport.

"The CHIO Aachen 2010 will not be carried out on the basis of the current FEI regulations, but according to the ethics of clean sport."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
November 2009: Leading equine vets write letter of protest to Princess Haya
November 2009: Pippa Cuckson - How the FEI managed to sabotage its own new anti-doping programme
November 2009: FEI vice-president unhappy after bute reintroduced to sport
September 2009: Former Met Police Commissioner wants overhaul of anti-doping in equestrian
May 2009: German equestrian hit by rhaul of anti-doping in equestrian