Maternity Leave Rule Introduced for Dressage World Rankings Effective 2019

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Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 5, 2018–A change in dressage world ranking rules to enable riders–male and female–on maternity leave from competition to keep some points will be implemented by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) beginning next year.

National federations were advised Thursday of the rule change to deal with an issue that has become more prominent in recent years in many sports. Rankings are important as a high enough place can determine where a combination is drawn to start in a competition, early or late, the latter case considered better. Plus, high rankings can have benefits for sponsorships and other vital support.

The new rule: “Athletes may request a maternity leave or a medical leave providing the pregnancy/medical condition is certified in writing by a medical doctor; requests for maternity/medical leave must be addressed to the FEI Dressage Director. During the period which an Athlete has officially ceased to compete due to pregnancy or a medical condition, he/she will retain 50% of the Dressage World Rankings points earned from the corresponding month of the preceding year until he/she recommences competing internationally.

“The minimum length of time for which an Athlete may be granted a maternity/medical leave is six months; if the maternity/medical leave lasts less than six months, no points will be retained from the corresponding month of the preceding year.

“The maximum length of time an Athlete may benefit from a maternity/medical leave of absence at one time is 12 months.

“During the period in which an Athlete is on maternity/medical leave, he/she may not compete in international or national Competitions; the FEI will inform the Athlete’s NF accordingly. The Athlete concerned must inform the FEI Dressage Director when he/she resumes international participation.”

Among highy ranked riders to recently take maternity leave is Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg who stopped competing Feb. 18 this year. She gave birth to a girl two weeks ago, and has not announced a date to return to competition.

At that time she was ranked No. 8 in the world on the U.S.-owned Damsey FRH with 2304 points, accumulated by the best eight results over the previous 12 months. If Helen returns to competition in September, points she earned in July and August 2017 will be dropped. She would have only seven scores to count toward her ranking, and not eight.

The issue gained greater exposure this week with the advocacy by Serena Williams of the United States for changes to tennis rankings after her maternity. The All England tennis club that organizes Wimbledon seeded her much higher than her current world ranking that helped her draw.