Olympic bronze medalist Paget cleared in horse-doping case
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Olympic equestrian bronze medalist Jock Paget was cleared in a doping case Thursday after a panel ruled that he was not to blame for his horse's positive test at an international event in England last year.
A contaminated medication caused the positive test, an International Equestrian Federation tribunal ruled.
''The tribunal finds that (Paget) has succeeded in establishing that he bears no fault or negligence for the rule violation,'' the FEI ruling said.
The verdict lifting the threat of a ban on Paget was published two weeks before the World Equestrian Games start in Normandy, France. He was provisionally named in the New Zealand team in June.
''It is complete relief,'' Paget said in a statement published on the New Zealand equestrian federation's website. ''I feel as though I had my career stripped from me and now someone has said `hang on, you can have it back.'''
However, Paget and his horse Clifton Promise remain disqualified from their eventing victory at Burghley last year because of the presence of reserpine.
They helped New Zealand win eventing team bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand president Chris Hodson said the verdict was important to the country's reputation.
''That Jock Paget has proved his innocence, which requires a very high standard which has only been achieved in one previous case, is intensely satisfying,'' Hodson said.
The sedative was traced to a medication known as LesstressE, which had been regularly administered to Paget's horses without causing a positive test.
''The tribunal therefore believes that (Paget) had the right to rely on the product,'' the verdict stated.
Still, the tribunal noted the rider's ''intention to enhance the horse's performance.''
Paget ''had administered the product in order to prevent the horse from refusing its feed and drinks, and from changing its metabolic function, especially around competition times, when the horse was stressed,'' the tribunal said.
The 30-year-old rider began serving a provisional suspension last October after the test result was confirmed.
The ban was lifted in June after Paget testified at a FEI disciplinary hearing in London.
In a similar but separate case, the FEI also cleared Australian rider Kevin McNab of blame for his horse Clifton Pinot testing positive test for the same substance at Burghley.