Criminal Background Checks Required of Media Accredited to Cover US Equestrian Federation Events, International Journalist Group to Seek Clarification

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Aug. 23, 2019–The International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists reported Friday the group with members in 24 countries is seeking clarification from the United States national federation over a new requirement for media to undergo criminal background checks to be allowed to cover American-sanctioned events.

The cost of the background checks of $20 (€18) for U.S.-based media and $100 (€90) for non-US media has to be paid by the individuals or their employers.

The new requirement came from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee that governs federations responsible for Olympic sports–dressage, eventing and jumping–for equestrian.

The USEF implemented the requirement for the Festival of Champions currently being held in Wayne, Illinois.

The new requirement: “media seeking credentials must complete a criminal background check in accordance with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s Background Check Policy’s best practices. A criminal background check is necessary due to the potential of unsupervised one-on-one interactions with athletes… Domestic background checks take approximately one week to complete and cost $20, which will be paid by the individual completing the background check. International background checks take approximately three weeks to complete and cost $100. Background checks are to be paid by the individual or their employer.”

The requirement led to questions from some foreign media at the European Championships of dressage, jumping and para-dressage who plan to cover the U.S. winter circuit in Wellington, Florida and the World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April.

Vicki Lowell, USEF Chief Marketing & Content Officer, said in response to questions from dressage-news.com the new policy being proactively implemented at specific USEF credentialed events “is definitely an evolving area.”

She said that individuals affiliated with media who are authorized or credentialed by the USEF to attend a USEF-owned property such as national championships and may have unsupervised one-on-one interaction with athletes will be required to undergo the criminal background check.

For events such as the World Cup Final or international events under the jurisdiction of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), requirements by the FEI and not USEF would apply.

The USEF had not contacted the FEI or International Olympic Committee about the new requirement, she said.

The $100 fee applies to all non-US residents, including media in Canada and Mexico that extensively cover their athletes in the United States, but it would depend on whether the event is under the jurisdiction of the USEF or the FEI.