Jock Paget gets more time for drug case defence

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:01 18/12/2013
Jock Paget
GETTY IMAGES
CASE HEARD: The tribunal hearing into the doping case centred on New Zealand eventing star Jock Paget will conclude tomorrow.

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New Zealand three-day eventer Jock Paget has asked for more time to gather evidence in his defence as the Clifton Promise drug case rumbles on.

Paget and his team initially had till today to present evidence to the world equestrian federation's (FEI) Tribunal - today being 21 days since Paget was notified that the B-sample taken from his horse, Clifton Promise, after their triumph at the Burghley Horse Trials in September had tested positive for banned sedative reserpine.

However, Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis said Paget's lawyers asked the FEI for an extension, and the governing body has granted it, with mid-January the new deadline for getting all evidence to the tribunal.

"From what I understand it would be very unusual for the FEI not to grant that extension," Ellis said yesterday.

"It's up to Jock's team to put a persuasive case in a written format forward and once the FEI Tribunal receives that dossier of evidence, they will then determine the hearing date."

A hearing is not likely to be held swiftly, and could be mid-March at the earliest according to Ellis, leaving Paget's career in limbo.

He has been provisionally banned from the sport since news in October that Promise's A-sample tested positive for reserpine. The rider is considered the person responsible for the horse. Paget, who has always protested his innocence, and his team of lawyers and scientists have been scrambling to find evidence that would clear him of any wrongdoing.

The world No 3, who won Badminton in May, also aboard Clifton Promise, has just completed a visit back to New Zealand where he conducted some informal coaching clinics. It's understood he's also been to Australia to visit his father and is returning to his English base.

"He'll obviously have to get his head down and plough through some tough weeks and months as this goes on," Ellis said, reiterating his and ESNZ's support for the 2012 Olympic team bronze medallist.

Depending on what evidence Paget can provide the FEI, the length of ban could be anywhere between zero and two years, though he will be stripped of his Burghley title and prizemoney. That will go to Kiwi team-mate and world No 1 Andrew Nicholson, the 2012 champion who was second aboard Avebury this year.

Ellis last month told Fairfax that Paget's team was confident it had found answers that would lead to a successful defence. 

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