Colombian team defends show jumper accused of "mechanical doping"

Paris (France) (AFP) –


Jean-Marc Nicolas, the French trainer of the Colombian equestrian team, defended one of his riders accused of "mechanical doping" in the showjumping final at the World Cup in Paris.

At the press conference after the competition on Friday, one indignant journalist asked if Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo had made the hind boots on his 12-year-old gelding, Admara 2, painfully tight.

Admara 2 had produced impressive leg kicks on the way to a second clear round in two days, this one only blemished by a one-point time penalty.

The boots, sometimes called leggings, are designed to protect the horse's rear legs, but their use is controversial because when they are excessively tightened, the resulting discomfort encourages the horse to flick its legs higher when jumping, reducing the chance of touching a jump and knocking off a bar.

"Admara 2 had exactly the same boots as the day before," Nicolas told AFP. "Gerard Longis, the head steward in the paddock, put them on and took them off. If they hadn't conformed to the rules, he would have said. And the rider told him not to fasten them too tight."

"I am adamant that we should ban these boots. I say that they are an outside aid," Nicolas said. "It's just a pity we have to wait three years."

John Roche, the director of jumping for the International Equestrian Federation, insisted that rear boots would be banned "by 2021".

"If we haven't already done it that's because we can't change such a rule during a period of Olympic qualification," he said.

Nicolas said character and mood explained the way the horse jumped.

"Admara is a very respectful horse, very emotional," he said. "She was a little timid at the start of the round and the rider was obliged to take her closer to the jumps."

Lopez Lizarazo is seventh in the competition and will be back on Admara 2 on Sunday at the AccorHotel Arena, for the final two rounds.