Johnson will miss the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington because of a failed drug test for her horse. A talented rider, Johnson became the first black American to win a major grand prix in 2015.
Johnson’s horse, Luke Skywalker 46, tested positive for Pramoxine in January at the Winter Equestrian Festival. The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) announced the positive test result for the banned substance in April and Johnson was suspended indefinitely until a final verdict, which was this month.
Sergio Molinero, Johnson’s long-time groom -- the word used to describe a person employed to take care of horses -- went to the store to grab an antibiotic cream to treat small cuts on the horse but accidentally grabbed the one that contained the banned substance, according to an FEI report.
Johnson’s competition includes Jessica Springsteen, the daughter of singer Bruce Springsteen; Georgina Bloomberg, whose father is former New York major Michael R. Bloomberg; Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer; Destry Spielberg, the daughter of director Steven Spielberg; and Eve Jobs, daughter of the late Steve Jobs.
Molinero said he has been Johnson’s groom for the past 15 years and has been working with the horse since they bought it in 2015.
“I was buying the same triple antibiotic we always buy, which is OK under the anti-doping rules,” he said in the report. “I now realize after Paige was able to find my receipt for the purchase that I made a mistake and pulled the wrong tube off the shelf because it looked so much like the one we always use.”
Pramoxine is an anesthetic that is designed to relieve pain and itching and is on the FEI’s banned substances list.
Veterinarian John Nolan told the FEI that Johnson is very careful about the treatment of her horses. He said Johnson is “the most careful and ethical rider with whom he had ever worked,” the report said.
Johnson, 31, must also pay a fine of 2,000 Swiss Francs and an additional 3,000 Swiss Francs to cover legal costs. A Swiss Franc is worth just a bit more than one American dollar.
Her suspension will be up in April 2018.
Johnson has been a competitive equestrian rider since she was a child, competing all over the world.