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CVM Alumnus to Serve as Technical
Veterinary Delegate During Olympics

As the start of the 2012 Olympics draws near, fans eagerly await the start of contests in their favorite sports. For fans of international equestrian competitions, that start will be July 28 with eventing. Other Olympic equestrian contests will be held in dressage and jumping. However, before the first horse is permitted to take to the arena, it has to be judged fit to compete. When each of the riders trots their horse before a judge, whose job it is to rule whether they will be allowed to go for the gold, the judge making those decisions for 2012 Olympics will be University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus Kent Allen.

Allen, DVM ’79, is the owner of Virginia Equine Imaging in Middleburg, Va. On July 22, he will head across the Atlantic to serve as the foreign veterinary delegate for the London Olympics. With three other people who make up the Veterinary Commission, it will be the commission’s responsibility to make sure the regulations and structure established by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) are followed.

“The challenge is in making rules that work anywhere in the world,” he said. “The rules have to work all the way down to the bottom end of the sport.”

While team veterinarians will be there to provide hands-on care for any illness or injury in the horses, the Veterinary Commission will oversee the welfare of the animals from what Allen says is more of a “10,000-foot level.”

The Veterinary Commission will also oversee the drug testing process to ensure that equestrian athletes, human and equine, don’t give themselves a competitive advantage through performance enhancing drugs.

“Both the horse and the rider are athletes. If either one tests positive (for a prohibited substance) the entire team is disqualified,” Allen said.

While a variety of rules are in place to determine in advance which horses must be drug tested and other circumstances may arise that prompt the Veterinary Commission to demand blood samples, the group will also become involved in investigating allegations of sabotage, for instance if someone claims that their horse has been improperly injected with a substance by someone else.

This will be the third Olympics for Allen, whose Virginia practice specializes in lameness. He began working with event horses in the mid-1980s. He served as the veterinary services manager for the Atlanta Olympics and was also the foreign veterinary delegate in the Sydney Olympics.

We will follow up with Allen about his experiences during the games when the Olympics are complete.

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Last Update: February 29, 2012