Update–FEI Tribunal Weighs Dominican Republic Protest on Olympic Qualification
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The International Equestrian Federation has asked the FEI Tribunal to dismiss a Dominican Republic protest over Olympic individual dressage representation from South America, sources reported Thursday on the case in which a Brazilian combination finished atop the South American rankings with results from several qualifying competitions in Brazil with a majority of Brazilian judges.
The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Loses de Muñiz and her horse, Liebling II finished second in the individual rankings for South America behind Luíza Tavares de Almeida and Samba of Brazil.
The Dominican Republic protested the results as three Brazilians were on a number of the five-person ground juries at competitions staged in Brazil to qualify a combination for this summer’s Olympics in London.
The FEI Tribunal arranged a telephone conference call Wednesday with representatives of the Dominican Republic, Brazil and the FEI.
The FEI argued that the Central American nation’s federation knew about the practice of including more than two judges from Brazil–there were three Brazilian on the panel of five members–in the ground jury but did not file a protest in a timely fashion.
Therefore, the protest should be procedurally barred because “the nature of the claim they filed had to first be decided by the Ground Jury.”
The Dominican Republic filed its protest with the FEI Secretary General.
The rules stipulate that a ground jury cannot include more than two judges from a single nation without an exception provided by the FEI.
The Dominican Republic, the sources said, reported it was not invited to and did not compete in the Brazilian qualifying shows where there were three Brazilian judges.
Further, the Dominican Republic federation was only aware of breaches of the rules in January, 2012, so was unable to act on competitions held from March to December, 2011.
The FEI Tribunal panel to decide whether to accept the protest comprised Jens Adolphsen of Germany, chairman of the Tribunal and also chair of the panel for this case, and members Armand Leone of the United States and Vladan Jetvic of Serbia.
The FEI said after the hearing the Tribunal will decide “as quickly as possible” whether to hear the protest.
“It did not immediately issue a decision, but the Tribunal is aware of the time sensitivity and indicated it would work as quickly as possible.” the FEI said.
The rules state that scores can count from qualifying competitions “judged by five judges of whom at least three are foreign,” but the FEI Dressage Committee can provide “reasonable exceptions.”
Brazil was granted an exception to the composition of ground juries in qualifying competitions for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.
The Tribunal will now decide whether to accept the protest and, if so, set a final hearing date.
The case may not be concluded by the Mar. 31 deadline for confirmation of individual allocated places for the London Games.
The FEI Tribunal may not be the final arbiter in the case.
The decision of the FEI Tribunal may lead to an appeal to the independent Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, as is the FEI.