26 February 2015, Switzerland ~ Following the first meeting of the new FEI Executive Board, chaired by recently elected President Ingmar De Vos, Secretary General Sabrina Zeender has removed the two remaining international Endurance events scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March 2015 from the FEI calendar in an emergency measure to protect horse welfare and to preserve the integrity of the FEI rules and regulations at FEI events.
The move follows a mandate from the FEI Bureau to the Executive Board to urgently investigate horse welfare issues and non-compliance with FEI rules and regulations in the UAE. The Executive Board will now finalise its recommendations to the Bureau.
“We have made this our top priority and will make our conclusions as speedily as possible so that the recommendations can be presented to the Bureau for urgent consideration”, the FEI President said after the meeting, which was held at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne (SUI).
The Executive Board meeting was attended by the FEI President, 1st Vice President and Chair of the Jumping Committee John Madden (USA), 2nd Vice President and Chair of FEI Regional Group VII HE Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa (BRN), Chair of the Dressage Committee Frank Kemperman (NED), Chair of the Athletes’ Committee Maria Gretzer (SWE), and FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender (SUI). Luiz Roberto Giugni (BRA), Chair of FEI Regional Group VI, was unable to attend due to meetings in Brazil on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Endurance Rules were strengthened last year specifically to protect and promote horse welfare following recommendations from the Endurance Strategic Planning Group. The widely supported measures include additional dope testing, injury surveillance and reporting, athlete penalties for equine injuries, and extended rest periods. Other measures increase the responsibility and accountability of riders, trainers and officials, as well as steps to address any conflicts of interest.
The removal of international events from the FEI calendar is covered in the FEI General Regulations. Article 112 states: “The Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.”