Germany stripped of show jumping gold

A doping offence has cost Germany a gold medal in show jumping at the Athens Olympics, the International Equestrian Federation said Saturday

Germany's gold-medal count from the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics fell to 13 on Saturday.

The International Equestrian Federation announced it had disqualified rider Ludger Beerbaum and horse Goldfever for a doping offence and awarded the gold medal to the United States.

"It's very exciting for us. It's an unfortunate thing for the sport, but it's nice for the Americans. It's exciting to win the gold medal, not in the traditional way, but it's still a gold medal," U.S. team member McLain Ward said.

Sweden takes silver, while Germany will get a bronze medal in show jumping because the sport's governing body wiped out Goldfever's results from the Athens event.

Beerbaum, who has denied cheating, can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The banned steroid betamethasone was contained in an ointment used to treat a skin irritation on the horse.

"The Judicial Committee has agreed that the horse, Goldfever, and [Beerbaum] must be disqualified from the event and that all prizes and prize money won at the event must be forfeited," the FEI said in a statement on its website.

"The FEI will modify the team results at the Olympic Games based on a calculation of the team results as if [Beerbaum] and Goldfever had never participated in the Olympic Games."

The Judicial Committee accepted Beerbaum's argument that the banned substance was connected to a legitimate medical treatment and that Goldfever didn't gain a competitive advantage from it.

The committee added Beerbaum didn't attempt to enhance the horse's performance or gain any unfair advantage.

"Nevertheless, the [rider] has failed to ensure that Goldfever has no prohibited substances in its systems during an international event," the FEI said.

with files from Associated Press