FEI to Discuss Moscow CDI3* Olympic Qualifying Results, Photo Emerges of Judge Fouarge Instructing Inessa Merkulova & Mister X 4 Months Ago

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Inessa Merkulova on Mister X who appears to be receiving instructions from Ghislain Fouarge of the Netherlands in a photodated Oct. 22-24, 2015 and located by dressage-news.com on the Internet site of New Century stables, the facility owned by Inessa and her husband.
Inessa Merkulova on Mister X who appears to be receiving instructions from Ghislain Fouarge of the Netherlands in a photo dated Oct. 22-24, 2015 and located by dressage-news.com on the Internet site of New Century stables, the facility owned by Inessa and her husband.

Feb. 27, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The FEI, the International Equestrian Federation, will discuss the results of the Moscow CDI3* Olympic qualifying event next week and a photograph emerged of Dutch Judge Ghislain Fouarge training Russian combination Inessa Merkulova on Mister X dated four months before he awarded the pair 82.600 per cent in the Grand Prix.

The dressage community around the world has been roiled by the total score of 82.240 per cent for the winning combination in the Grand Prix and a personal best 76.780 per cent for the second placed Russian pair of Marina Aframeeva on Vosk, also owned by Inessa Merkulova. Their previous best Grand Prix score was 71.900 per cent in Moscow last September.

Inessa Merkulova on Mister X and Marina Aframeeva on Vosk are stabled at New Century, also in Moscow, which is owned by Inessa and her husband.

Ghislain Fouarge of the Netherlands, a FEI 5* judge and former FEI Judge General, is known to give clinics in Russia and is seen in a photo dated Oct. 22-24, 2015 and located by dressage-news.com on the Internet site of New Century.

The photo appears to show the judge directing Inessa on Mister X.

Videos of the Grand Prix rides by Inessa Merkulova on Mister X and Marina Aframeeva on Vosk can be seen here:

https://www.facebook.com/abuzykina/posts/597673813718678

Inessa Merkulova and Mister X were already certain to earn a spot in Rio as the pair topped both the open rankings as well as for the geographic group in which Russia is listed, Marina and Vosk were as low as 20th on the rankings before this weekend’s competition and given only a slight chance of making the cut.

Among the combinations affected by the change in the rankings for the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with one week remaining to the deadline are: Poland’s Beata Stremler on Rubicon D; Ireland’s Judy Reynolds on Vancouver K and Belgium’s Jorinde Verwimp on Tiamo.

Under FEI rules, a judge is not permitted to train a horse and rider for a total of three days for nine months before judging a competition.

“The FEI has been informed about the results and they will be discussed at the Dressage Committee meeting next week,” a spokesperson for the governing body of international horse sports told dressage-news.com Saturday.

The FEI Dressage Committee of six members and chaired by Frank Kemperman of the Netherlands and organizer of the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany as well as other major shows, will meet in person at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain next Monday and Tuesday.

While no FEI official or member of the Dressage Committee would comment, some officials from national federations pointed to the Olympic qualifying rule dealing with “Fairness,” that states:

“The FEI has the right to accept reasonable exceptions to these rules, in the interest of the riders and the sport in general.

“The FEI Dressage Committee may decide not to include the scores obtained at an event in the rankings, should the event not have been organized in accordance with general principle of fairness. The Executive Board should confirm the decision of the Dressage Committee.”

To head off concerns over results from shows on the calendar within the last week of qualifying, a letter was sent by the FEI to the organizers of two competitions in Lier, Belgium next week and a member of the Judges Supervisory Panel (JSP) that is an overseer of judging at Olympics and major championships was assigned to monitor the events.

The organizers of two weeks of shows at Jerez invited the FEI to send a representative of the JSP to their competitions.

Coincidentally, three members of the JSP were at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. While the judges had no JSP function, they would have the right to report to the FEI any occurrence not in keeping with rules or fairness and no such report was made.

No JSP representative judge was assigned to the CDI3* event in Moscow that was the first staged at Maxima Park by an organizing committee named Maxima Equisports.

This is the second Olympics in a row that issues around dressage qualifying competitions and judging have arisen.

In 2012, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics when a Brazilian combination received higher scores from panels with three Brazil national judges in violation of the rules. The FEI defended a letter it had sent to Brazil allowing an exception to the rules for the 2010 World Games but had not renewed permission for 2012. An appeal by Yvonne led to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland upholding the basis of her complaint but allowed the Brazilian combination to hold on to their scores on the grounds they had been obtained in the belief they would count.