Ireland's Lynch 'shattered' over positive test

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2008, 12:00am

An orange gooey muscle relaxant is the source of the capsaicin that was found in the positive doping test of Latinus, the horse ridden by Denis Lynch of Ireland.

Irish team veterinarian Marcus Swail said Lynch regularly applied Equi-Block - an equine version of Deep Heat - to Latinus' lower back as a part of his warm-up routine.

'It was part of his routine during the bigger wins he's had this year,' said Swail, adding that the horse had tested negative numerous times this season. 'So it's a considerable surprise to us that it has tested positive today. Denis was so certain that it wasn't a problem that he didn't even think to draw it to my attention.'

In his preliminary hearing with the International Equestrian Federation, Lynch explained the origin of the substance, but remained suspended for Thursday night's individual showjumping final.

'I'm shattered,' Lynch said. 'That's it, shattered. I can't say any more.'

On the Equi-Block container the sentence 'contains capsaicin, will not test positive' is highlighted in yellow with 'capsaicin' written in capital letters.

Lynch believed he should have been allowed to compete on Thursday. 'I don't think I've done anything wrong,' said Lynch. 'If someone wants to make something out of it, off they go. I've got nothing to hide.'

Asked if he was aware of capsaicin's ability to enhance performance when applied to the legs of the horses, Lynch said: 'Absolutely not.'

Horse sport Ireland chief executive officer Damian McDonald acknowledged the doping problem in showjumping, alluding to the positive test of rider Cian O'Connor four years ago in Athens which cost O'Connor his individual gold medal. Because of that incident, McDonald said Latinus was tested on arrival in Hong Kong, although capsaicin was not among the medications that were being screened.

'We were absolutely keen for the Olympic Games, to take every possible precaution,' McDonald said. 'We did everything we could to try and avoid this catastrophe happening.'

Swail believed the penalty imposed on Lynch was harsh. 'His preparation for here was not any different [than] for his preparation for the Super League shows,' Swail said. 'Given that there was no difference in his preparation, it seems to be an extremely severe penalty that he's not allowed to jump, given that he was tested on numerous occasions and there were no difficulties.'

Swail said that part of the problem was vagueness on the FEI's list of banned substances, calling the list a bit of a 'misnomer' as it did not include precisely what was or was not allowed.

'Unfortunately, the reality is that on too many occasions, we only find out what is allowed and what is not allowed by people testing positive,' Swail said.