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Brazil and U.S. could get equestrian gold due to rival's positive test

LONDON (AP) _ Six weeks after the Athens Olympics, Brazil and the United States stand to pick up another gold medal _ thanks to a doping scandal in equestrian events.

Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil could be bumped up to individual showjumping gold, and the United States in the team jumping because horses ridden by winning Irish and German competitors failed doping tests.

The International Equestrian Federation, known as FEI, announced on Friday that four horses tested positive for banned substances during the games in August.

While FEI did not disclose the names of the horses or riders, the national federations did. They were:

_ Waterford Crystal, ridden by showjumper Cian O'Connor, winner of Ireland's only gold medal in Athens.

_ Goldfever, ridden by Ludger Beerbaum of Germany's gold medal-winning quartet in team jumping.

_ Ringwood Cockatoo, German rider Bettina Hoy's horse. She was the original winner of the three-day and individual events, but lost those golds for a technical infraction.

_ Foxy Xx, ridden by Austria's Harald Riedl. The pair finished far out of the medals in three-day eventing.

The riders denied cheating. They said their horses received treatment for legitimate medical reasons and not to improve their performance.

The riders and their federations said they would request analysis of the horses' backup B samples. If those tests also come back positive, the International Olympic Committee could annul the results and strip any medals.

A record 24 doping cases were reported by the IOC during the Athens Games. Seven medals, including three golds, were revoked. Now two more golds could be taken away.

If Germany loses the team jumping gold, it would go to the U.S. quartet of Chris Kappler, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, and Peter Wylde.

The Americans won five equestrian medals in Athens, two silver and three bronze.

Kappler won a bronze in showjumping aboard Royal Kaliber. He would move up to silver if O'Connor is stripped of his gold. Pessoa would move from silver to gold.

``I believe that I won this medal fair and square and that the horse has not been given anything that would make him jump better,'' O'Connor said in Dublin. ``I wish to assure everybody that I have competed honestly and honorably both for myself and my country.''

The Irish federation said Waterford Crystal was given a sedative after suffering a fetlock injury on July 22. His veterinarian, James Sheeran, said the sedative should have worked its way out of the horse's system within 10 to 14 days _ well before the start of the games.

In Germany, Beerbaum said the banned substance Betamethasone was contained in a salve applied to a sore spot on his horse.

``I was shaken up when I discovered (the positive test) came about because of a treatment to help the horse,'' he said. ``Since I knew our team veterinarian approved this treatment, I was unconcerned.''

Hoy said her horse tested positive for Hydroxy-Diphenhydramin after a lotion was applied to a sore in the saddle area.

``I relied on the permission of our team veterinarian, who went out of his way to ask one of the FEI's veterinarians if this treatment was allowed,'' she said.
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