Eventing Nation has been extensively covering this FEI controversy since we first reported rumors of the potential change two weeks ago. When I got to the convention, I was excited to chat with more riders about the issue, which I did Thursday night. Half the riders I asked didn’t know about the story, and the other half couldn’t understand what I was talking about, and then one nearly threw up in my lap, so I decided to leave the cocktail party and talk to some sober riders. After several enlightening discussions, here are a few thoughts that I hope will help us to better consider the issue moving forward.
The most important point is that we are dealing with two very different issues:
1) Should horses be given any drugs immediately prior to or during competition, particularly the three just allowed by the FEI? My feeling, and I think the feeling of most people, is that, if at all possible, we want to help the horses as much as possible without being ‘performance enhancing.’ People I have talked to who are much more educated about medications than myself, on average, support riders and vets having more tools to treat horses at their disposal. Banamine is one that keeps coming up as a useful tool that is currently banned that could be used to help horses recover from a colic during a competition. It might make for better reading if I came out with a firm stance on this first issue, but I just don’t consider myself educated enough to speak strongly on how much medication should be allowed at competitions. As long as we are not jeopardizing the safety of horses by masking unsoundness, I think making them feel better is good.
But, I have very strong feelings about the second issue, and this issue is why I keep giving the FEI a bit of a hard time, posting photos of Mark McGuire and whatnot.
2) Did the FEI completely misjudge the equestrian community, totally screw up their clean sport initiative efforts, and probably violate their own laws? Absolutely
. We all want the FEI to succeed, but they have completely screwed this up. The first signs of problems occurred when the FEI general assembly rejected the consolidation of FEI leadership
in what everyone thought would just be a rubber-stamp vote. Then, the FEI presented the progressive list to delates just days before the vote. This point is very important because we did a little research and the official FEI Statutes
, the laws that govern the FEI
Annex I: Procedural Regulations of the General Assembly
5. Amendments to the Sport Rules:
5.2 All National Federations must be given at least six weeks to review a draft of the revised Sport Rules or proposed modifications and propose any amendments thereto. The final draft must be sent to the National Federations no later than four weeks before the General Assembly.
The Horse and Hound
reported that the progressive list may have been emailed to delegates on November 13th, the Chronicle
reported that not all the delegates received the email, and absolutely no reports, from any news organizations that I have seen (and I look at a lot) or the FEI have reported that the progressive list was sent out to the National Federations prior to November 13th
Damian McDonald, the chief executive of Horse Sport Ireland said
“On 13 November it was stated by the FEI that we would get a choice between the ‘progressive list’ and a list legally called the ’20 October list’. But this morning we were asked to vote on ‘progressive list’ and ‘current list’, and the current list we had until now is very different from the list of 20 October.”
These issues are only compounded by the many reports that the FEI changed the names and content of the lists leading up to the vote, the refusal to allow a revote, the long silence by the FEI after the vote, etc. If you support giving medication to horses for competitions, great. But no one can convince me that the FEI leadership has been a good steward of equestrian sport over the last few weeks. Go eventing sober.