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Paget suspended after horse tests positive

October 15, 2013

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand equestrian Jock Paget has been suspended from competition after his champion horse Clifton Promise tested positive for a banned substance.

Equestrian Sport New Zealand said it had been informed by the sport’s international body, the FEI, that Clifton Promise had tested positive for the sedative reserpine after winning the Burghley International Horse Trial on Sept. 8.

In a statement on Tuesday, ESNZ said the England-based Paget was “understandably shocked” at the finding.

″(Paget) and all relevant parties state categorically that none of them have taken any actions with the intent of administering any prohibited substance,” the statement said. “ESNZ and Paget are establishing a likely cause of the positive test and will provide submissions to the FEI Tribunal as required.”

As the person responsible for the care of Clifton Promise, Paget has been suspended from all national and international competitions until an investigation has been completed. Clifton Promise is suspended for two months until the results of tests on its backup sample are available.

ESNZ chief executive Jim Ellis said if the backup sample tested positive, Paget would have about two weeks to prepare a case before appearing before an FEI tribunal.

Paget won both the prestigious Burghley and Badminton horse trials this year to establish himself as one of world equestrian competition’s leading riders.

“Jock is devastated and coming on the back of what has been a real breakthrough year for him, to have this come out of the woodwork four weeks after Burghley has been an absolute showstopper for him,” Ellis told the New Zealand Herald.

Ellis said if the backup sample was positive, “then between (Paget) and ourselves we’ve got to do everything we can to prove there was nothing untoward, or an explanation as to why it was in the horse’s bloodstream.”

He said Paget could face a two-year ban from competition if he was found to have administered a banned substance but that penalty would be “at the extreme end of the scale.”

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