Prosecutor Finds No Evidence of Corruption by Austrian Olympian, Judge, Official Elisabeth Max-Theurer Over Salzburg Horse Show Sponsorship

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Elisabeth Max-Theurer with her daughter, Victoria Max-Theurer and the horse Blind Date. Photo: GEPA pictures/ Florian Ertl

Mar. 4, 2019

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Elisabeth “Sissy” Max-Theurer, Olympic gold medalist for Austria, international dressage 5* judge and president of the Austrian equestrian federation, has been officially cleared of corruption allegations involving her sponsorship of the Salzburg World Cup dressage competition.

The Austrian Ministry of Justice accepted the results of an investigation by the Central Public Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption that found no evidence to support allegations by Edda and Max Schmidt involving Sissy’s substantial financial support of international horse shows.

The Schmidt family owns Bartlgut equestrian and several horses competed by Ulrike Prunthaller who in 2013 was banned by the Austrian federation from competition for nine months for “painful and illegal training methods” of horses.

In addition to the Salzburg competition, the Max-Theurers host international dressage shows at their estate in Achleiten, Austria and Cappeln, Germany.

Elisabeth competed in three Olympics, winning individual gold at the 1980 Games in Moscow that were boycotted by most nations because of the invasion of Afghanistan by the then Soviet Union.

Her daughter, Victoria Max-Theurer, 33, has competed for Austria at four Olympics, the first in Athens in 2004 when she was aged 19. She also competed in the 2006 and 2014 World Equestrian Games and eight European Championships.

A “statement of the facts” was filed by the Schmidts with the Austrian Central Public Prosecutor in October last year and reported in the media in Austria and Germany.

It alleged Elisabeth Max-Theurer engaged in “criminally punishable behavior” by spending hundreds of thousands of euros/dollars to control the Salzburg’s “Amadeus Horse Indoors” through invitations to riders and the appointment of judges in 2015 through 2017.

(FEI records show that Victoria Max-Theurer competed only in 2015, placing fifth behind the winner Isabell Werth of Germany and second place by Edward Gal of the Netherlands.)

The prosecutor’s office, known by it’s initials WKStA, refrained from initiating a preliminary investigation on the grounds there was “no initial suspicion” of wrongdoing in the contract with the horse show.

The content of the contested contract is “not uncommon” and occurs “frequently,” WKStA found.

As a result of Max-Theurer sponsorship “Horse Amadeus Indoors” became a leading dressage event and the only World Cup qualifying event in Austria able to attract some of the world’s top riders.

Elisabeth Max-Theurer labeled the “statement of the facts” made to the WKStA by the Schmidts as part of a “smear campaign” by the family.