FEI Upholds Judging in Moscow CDI3*, Decides Ghislain Fouarge Training of Riders Within Rules

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Inessa Merkulova of Russia on Mister X. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Inessa Merkulova of Russia on Mister X. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Mar. 2, 2016–The FEI, International Equestrian Federation, upheld the judging of the Moscow CDI3* at which top Russian combination Inessa Merkulova and Mister X were awarded more than 82 per cent and said that Dutch five-star judge Ghislain Fouarge training in October, 2015 was within the rules.

The FEI said it received emails from “a number of national federations expressing their concern about the results at the CDI3* in Moscow” Feb. 26-28, a week before the deadline for Olympic qualifying.

The FEI Dressage Committee at its in-person meeting in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain on Monday and Tuesday reviewed the scores.

“Detailed information was gathered and the relevant parties have been given the opportunity to comment on this matter,” a FEI spokesperson said.

“After full analysis of the evidence presented to date, including the scores given by each of the judges, the FEI Dressage Committee informed the Secretary General they had concluded that the judging was consistent across the five judges and in accordance with the FEI Dressage Rules and the principle of fairness as detailed in the FEI Olympic Athletes Ranking – Dressage Rules.

“The Secretary General also reviewed the evidence in light of the Codex for FEI Dressage Judges regarding the training of a horse/rider prior to an event. The Codex does not permit a judge to train ‘a horse/rider for more than three days in the 12 month period prior to an event or any training of a horse/rider during a period of nine months before Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, Continental Championships on Grand Prix level, or World Cup Final, and three months before any other FEI event.’

“It was confirmed to the FEI that Ghislain Fouarge (NED) held a clinic at the New Century Club on the outskirts of Moscow from 22-24 October 2015 which was attended by 18 riders. These dates are fully in accordance with the rules regarding both duration of training and timing prior to the Moscow event and Dressage events at the Olympic Games.

“Consequently, and based on the available evidence, the FEI Secretary General has concluded that there was no breach of any rule at the CDI3* in Moscow.”

In an interview with St. Georg magazine the Dutch judge noted that his score of Inessa and Mister X of 82 per cent in the Grand Prix was in the middle of the range of the five-member ground jury.

He told St. Georg: “As regards the assessment of the rider, I have to say I was exactly in the average. If I had been the only one who the couple had so high, then I would have understood the excitement yes. But I was right in the middle.

“Of the photo dated October, 2015 showing him with Merkulova he explained: “It is true I was in Russia. But I gave no proper training.” He described what he did as “what they need to improve in the… to get more points.”

The former Judge General, the FEI chief judge, said of the complaints: “It’s character assassination, what happened there! It was awful! Inessa Merkulova rode great in Moscow. My horse was in contrast to previous rides, in which they already received high 70-percentage points was no longer so tight in the neck and everything is evaluated in the Grand Prix twice, worked out great: piaffe, pirouettes–that was not a ‘pretty good’ examination, but a ‘good’ test, this is an 80 per cent.”

Ghislain Fouarge as the judge at C gave the couple 82.60 percent. Russian judge Olga Soboleva awarded 85.70 percent while German Peter Engel gave 78.90 per cent, Natalia Rubashko of Belarus at 82.20 percent and Irina Maknami of Russia 81.80 percent.