United Arab Emirates Suspended from FEI Over Endurance

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Mar. 12, 2015–The United Arab Emirates was suspended by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Thursday for an indefinite period over “major horse welfare issues” and failing to comply with competition rules in Endurance.

The decision was made unanimously by the FEI Bureau “following an investigation by the FEI into major horse welfare issues and non-compliance with FEI Rules and Regulations.”

The suspension takes effect immediately and means the UAE may not organize any international events and its members cannot participate in any international events. However, UAE athletes from disciplines other than Endurance may compete under the FEI flag in international competitions organized outside the UAE. The UAE national federation may not attend or be represented at any session or meeting of any body of the FEI.

FEI rankings list 136 UAE Endurance combinations but none are listed for dressage and eventing and 27 in jumping.

“The Bureau has clearly outlined to the UAE Federation that any potential reinstatement to FEI membership is dependent on the UAE Federation signing an agreement with the FEI under which the UAE Federation pledges to take such action as the FEI Bureau deems necessary to assure the FEI and all stakeholders that the UAE Federation is protecting the welfare of the horse and complying fully with the FEI Rules and Regulations,” the FEI said in a statement.

“The decision to suspend a National Federation is not something that is taken lightly and we only should do this if no other remedy can be found,” said FEI President Ingmar de Vos.

“Sadly this was the only option left, but we have to take our responsibility and must never be afraid of tackling major issues head-on. Where horse welfare is concerned the FEI has to show leadership and solve problems in a structural way without making any concessions.

“We were confident that strict enforcement of the new rules implemented on 1 August 2014 following adoption of the recommendations from the Endurance Strategic Planning Group would be effective in reducing the numbers of catastrophic injuries and fatalities in the UAE, but regretfully this has not been the case. There have also been other major non-compliance issues, so in the end we had no other choice than taking this drastic measure to deal with an unacceptable situation.”

As an interim emergency measure to protect horse welfare and preserve the integrity of FEI rules and regulations at FEI events while the FEI Bureau was considering the Executive Board’s recommendations for further action, the FEI removed the two remaining Endurance events in the UAE from the FEI calendar two weeks ago, a move that garnered widespread support from national federations and welfare groups.

The UAE National Federation was notified Thursday of the suspension and has 30 days to appeal to the FEI Tribunal.

Separately, the FEI has requested the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit to conduct a full investigation into allegations of fake events and the duplication of results at FEI Endurance events in the UAE.