May 8 - Patrick Hickey, the President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), is optimistic that Ireland's equestrian team will avoid getting involved in any doping controversies at the London 2012 Olympics after Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) laid out a series of new measures.

Irish riders have been caught up in drugs scandals at the last two Games.

First, in Athens in 2004, Cian O'Connor was stripped of the gold medal he won in the show jumping after his horse Waterford Crystal tested positive for fluphenazine and zuclophenthixol.

Then at the Olympics in 2008 Denis Lynch's horse Lantinus tested positive for capsaicin, a banned pain relieving medication derived from chili peppers, and was prevented from taking part in the final of the show jumping, which was held in Hong Kong.

After that embarrassment, HSI  introduced a series of measures designed to solve the problem, including the implementation of the International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) "Clean Sport'"campaign, which is aimed at eliminating doping in equestrian sport.

Hickey praised HSI after the OCI received a presentation setting out the steps taken.

He said: "It was a very positive meeting and we very much welcome the great strides made by the FEI and Horse Sport Ireland in improving doping controls.

"We believe that we can now look forward to the London Olympic Games with greater confidence than in the past.

"Doping and the inappropriate use of medications are a serious threat to the integrity and reputation of equestrian sport.

"It's the responsibility of the entire equestrian community to help make this superb sport as clean as possible.

"We will continue to work in close partnership with Horse Sport Ireland to ensure that we maximise the potential for strong Irish performances in London, free from any doping controversy.

"We wish Irish riders every success at the first qualification event for the London Olympic Games, which are the World Equestrian Games being held in Kentucky in September next."

Joe Walsh, the chairman of HSI, said the meeting was very constructive.

He said; "We are committed to working in partnership with the OCI to put every possible measure in place to ensure that we have no repeat of what happened at the last two Olympic Games.

"The reputation of our country and our sector is at stake and it will continue to be our top priority."

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