Dominican Republic Rider’s Complaints Over Treatment Dismissed by FEI Integrity Unit
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
A complaint filed by Yvonne Loso de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic over her treatment by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) while protesting Olympic selection procedures in Latin America was reported Thursday to have been dismissed by the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit that was appointed by the FEI to investigate the charges.
MonitorQuest, with head offices in London and Boston and headed up by Lord John Stevens, former commissioner of London Metropolitan Police known the world over as Scotland Yard, conducted the investigation after the International Dressage Riders Club called for an independent probe.
“While I accept the report as is,” Yvonne told dressage-news.com, “I do not accept its findings and stand firmly by my allegations.
“Perhaps I was not physically or verbally abused per se, but I was certainly threatened, disrespected and diminished as a rider by certain elements of the FEI. Among other things, I was told in no uncertain terms that if my appeal succeeded the FEI would consider protesting my own results–that is a matter of record.”
The FEI said in a statement that the Integrity Unit had “conducted a thorough investigation of the allegations contained in the complaint, which included reviewing extensive written materials and interviewing numerous witnesses with information about the case.
“The conclusion is that there is no evidence to support Ms Losos de Muñiz’s complaint. The ECIU found the FEI to have acted appropriately throughout the course of the highlighted proceedings.”
“I am very happy that the ECIU concluded that the FEI acted professionally throughout this difficult process,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said. “We always strive to approach our athletes, stakeholders and members of our community with competence, respect and fairness and I have the utmost confidence in the FEI staff. The ECIU reviewed this sensitive matter thoroughly and found no flaws in the way it was handled by the FEI. As far as we are concerned the case is closed and we wish Ms Yvonne Losos de Muñiz all the best for her further equestrian career.”
Yvonne retired from competing in dressage after she failed in a bid to win a start at last summer’s Olympics in London. The individual placing was awarded to Brazil.
The IDRC call for the investigation was sparked by reports about FEI tactics that some riders labeled “intimidation.” The riders’ club said it was not taking sides but seeking to determine whether Yvonne and the Dominican federation were “treated with respect.”
The investigation was the latest step in the dispute that began when the FEI authorized CDi3* Olympic qualifying competitions in Brazil with three home nation judges on the panels of five instead of two as is the rule. The FEI extended a memorandum issued for the 2010 World Equestrian Games aimed at increasing participation. The so-called “exception” was adopted for the majority of CDI3* Grand Prix competitions in Brazil and a handful in other nations outside Europe. It has since been scrapped.
Luíza Tavares de Almeida of Brazil was at the top of the Olympic rankings for the sole place allocated to an individual in South America and competed in London on Pastor.
The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz campaigned in the United States in which all ground juries included three foreign judges and was ranked second.
She and her national federation appealed to the FEI Tribunal which rejected it and then they took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, which was their last resort. CAS found that the FEI erred in applying the 2010 memorandum but upheld the decision confirming Brazil as the top ranked nation on the grounds that Luíza had competed with the expectation the results were valid.
“I fail to understand the ECIU´s conclusion, taking into account the testimony given to the ECIU by witnesses that were present at all hearings, such as our national federation president,” Yvonne told dressage-news.com.
“While I accept the report as is, I do not accept its findings and stand firmly by my allegations. Perhaps I was not physically or verbally abused per se, but I was certainly threatened, disrespected and diminished as a rider by certain elements of the FEI. Among other things, I was told in no uncertain terms that if my appeal succeeded the FEI would consider protesting my own results-that is a matter of record.
“Following the receipt of the communication of the ECIU, which was labeled ‘Strictly Private and Confidential.’ to my surprise I was contacted yesterday by the FEI Press Department, looking for me to participate in a joint press release concerning the findings. In this message there was a suggested statement for me, indicating that I accept the conclusions and look forward to leaving this issue behind me.
“While I appreciate the FEI´s efforts, I do not accept the findings of the report. I have indeed placed the issue behind me, as I have retired from international competition a long time ago.
“My decision to retire has been reinforced by the latest changes in Olympic qualification being pushed forward by the FEI.
“As of now, there is even less opportunities for dressage riders from small nations to achieve their Olympic goals. Unless a country has the depth to field an entire Grand Prix team, it is basically out of the running for an Olympic spot. It is extremely unfortunate for the region, as this goes directly against the attempts to bring up the levels in the region.
“Why would a rider from our countries even make the effort to secure a Grand Prix mount and compete at that level, when all the extra spots have gone to nations that can field teams? It is also very disappointing to see that North and South American members of the FEI have failed to defend the interests of our regions´ riders once again.”