Independent Commission Urges New Measures to Clean Up Equestrian Sport

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Commission members (left to right) John Roche, Lord Steven and David O'Connor. © 2009 Ian Jones
Commission members (left to right) John Roche, Lord Steven and David O'Connor. © 2009 Ian Jones

LONDON, Sept. 2–The Stevens Commission that was appointed by the International Equestrian Federation to investigate doping in horse sports has recommended measures to clean up competitions.

Led by Britain’s former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, the commission included U.S. Equestrian Federation President David O’Connor, the Sydney Olympic individual gold medalist; Ken Lalo, chairman of the FEI Tribunal and Israel Equestrian Federation president, and John Roche, FEI Director of Jumping.

The Stevens Commission was set up in May, 2009 as an independent commission to assess and investigate practices among members of the German equestrian team and its officials at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Its responsibility was later broadened to include a wider overview of equestrian sport.

The Stevens Commission’s key recommendations include:

Integrity Unit–setting up of an independent Integrity Unit to maintain the status of a corruption free environment in the FEI and its sports;

Professionalisation of the Sport–A greater number of roles should be professionalized by having paid officials;

– Protocols–Urgent review of protocols for all anti-doping testing, including an assessment of conflicts of interests, and

– Stable Security at Competition Venues–More sophisticated and effective stable security at FEI Championships and CSIOs.

The investigation was aimed at dovetailing with the work of the Ljungqvist Commission and provide the FEI with a complete spectrum of changes to be implemented in its fight against doping.

The FEI Clean Sport Commission, chaired by Prof. Arne Ljungqvist (SWE), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Vice-President and Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, was established in November 2008. It has brought together representatives of all areas of veterinary medicine, in addition to representatives of all the stakeholder sectors in horse sport and its governing bodies. Its objective is to establish the best possible system to prevent the use of methods or substances that influence the performance of a competition horse, while ensuring horse welfare at all times. In addition it will bring the FEI as a governing body in line with the WADA Code.

Lord Stevens said, “The Commission was established in order to focus on the sport’s integrity. The Commission has endorsed a number of strong recommendations that it believes will provide clarity and improve governance and compliance issues. The recommendations, along with other ongoing efforts within the equestrian family, aim to reduce improper practices in the sport and lead it into a new era.”

FEI President Princess Haya said of the recommendations: “The Stevens Commission has made it absolutely clear that the FEI must turn a new leaf in order to guarantee its community a clean and uncorrupt product.

“The Stevens Commission and the Ljungqvist Commission have both painted a picture that illustrates how negligent we have been in this area thus far and our governing body is completely committed to rectifying the problems we now face, for the benefit of our athletes, our community and our public. ”

The recommendations will be put forward for approval by the National Federations at the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen, Denmark Nov. 15-20 and implementation to begin by Jan. 1, 2010.