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Wed 18 Apr 2012 11:55 AM

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Saudi faces Olympic ban over doping probe

Top show jumpers under spotlight after horses test positive for banned substances

Saudi faces Olympic ban over doping probe
Two top Saudi riders face Olympic bans (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Two of Saudi Arabia's top show jumpers face being banned from the London 2012 Olympic Games over a doping investigation, it was reported.

The UK's The Telegraph newspaper said that riders Khaled Al Eid and Abdullah Al Sharbatly will appear in front of International Equestrian Federation tribunals in Lausanne, France, this week after their horses tested positive for banned substances.

At World Cup qualifiers in Riyadh and
Al Ain, both Al Eid’s and Al Sharbatly’s rides - Vanhoeve and
Lobster 43 - tested positive ofr two controversial anti-inflammatory
products, phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone.

Even though bans for controlled substances are usually applied
for months, the pair’s Olympic outlook is reliant on backdating any bans to the
end of February, when they were suspended temporarily.

In show jumping, the rider is held responsible when a horse fails a doping test.

Al Eid, 43, is Sydney 2000 Olympic Games bronze medalist,
and Al Sharbatly, 29, sprung to prominence in 2010 World Games with a silver medal.

According to
the newspaper, Arab nations have invested millions of dollars over the past 15 years
to buy proven jumpers for as much as US$10m a piece each, while
also funding European bases for star riders.

The Telegraph also reported
that out of 23 positive dope cases worldwide waiting for determination, 16
involve horses from Arab nations including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia's involvement in this year's Olympics has created significant controversy already, primarily down to the kingdom's non-participation of female athletes.

In recent weeks, however, Saudi has showed a softening stance on the issue, indicating that the conservative Gulf state may be prepared to allow females to compete in the games.

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