Ukraine Steps Into Olympic Qualifying Conflict that Stemmed From Deal 2 Years Ago Overruling FEI Dressage Committee Proposal
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Mar. 18, 2016
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The Ukraine Equestrian Federation has entered the dispute over Olympic qualifying competitions that stemmed from a last-minute deal by the FEI, the International Equestrian Federation, more than two years ago to make up for cutting one of two teams from qualifying at the Pan American Games.
The Ukraine Federation has sent a letter to the FEI that is reviewing the results of competitions at Lier, Belgium at which Inna Logutenkova on Don Gregorius earned scores that would qualify Ukraine for an individual start. The contents of the letter were not made available to dressage-news.com.
A complaint by Poland led to the hold being placed on declaring the winner of a sixth Olympic individual start from open rankings. The deadline for qualifying was almost two weeks ago and all but the final spot was declared.
The FEI Dressage Committee of six members had voted to recommend a qualifying format for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro similar to that applied in London, of the eight best results in the year before the Games.
There was, however, a major caveat–the number of teams qualifying through the Pan Am Games would be cut to one from two in the past, ostensibly because the Americas already was guaranteed a team spot for Brazil as the host nation.
Mike Gallagher, Equine Canada’s president at the time, pointed out that European participation at the London Games was not reduced when Great Britain was awarded a team spot as host.
Although the number of Olympic places for dressage was increased to 60 in Rio from 50 in Brazil his case fell on deaf ears until the FEI General Assembly at Montreaux, Switzerland in 2013.
Documents distributed to the 130 member nations before the assembly proposed the Dressage Committee recommendation of eight results.
However, during the assembly meeting the FEI offered to cut the maximum number of results to count toward Olympic rankings in dressage from eight to four.
An argument was that the requirement for four results would make it easier to qualify a team of at least three members if they were not able to beat the United States at the Pan Ams.
Mike Gallagher’s suggested to the FEI to adopt a qualifying system similar to that for Eventing which also qualified only one team through the Pan Ams but allocated only one individual place to each of the seven Olympic geographic groups. The FEI proposal was to award dressage two places to the three European groups and one to the others.
As expected, the U.S. won team gold at the Pan Ams and the start in Rio.
Canada won one individual place through the Pan Ams and a second individual spot in the Olympic rankings as of Mar. 6 as the top finishing nation in its geographic group.
Canada’s proposal o follow the Eventing format would have provided three more places for the open rankings, nine instead of six and Canada would make the effort to qualify a third member to make up a so-called composite team.
However, his proposal fell on deaf ears. The put its own proposal to the assembly and it passed.
The conflicts and controversies that were feared because of the small number of qualifying competitions did occur.
This was the second Olympics in a row where qualifying procedures have tripped up the FEI.
In 2012, the FEI allowed Brazil–and other countries outside Europe–to use only two foreign judges instead of three on five-member ground juries at CDIs. The result was that Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic lost out to Brazil what she thought was a slot at the London Games. The FEI had permitted the exception based on a letter included the provision for the 2010 World Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland described the FEI implementation of the rule that did not specify 2012 as an “oversight” that was “more than a little unfortunate as it lies at the heart of this dispute–a dispute that has caused unnecessary upset and uncertainty” for the two riders and the Brazil and Dominican Republic federations.
The court said, however, that Brazilian riders had competed in the belief the events were properly organized and upheld the right of Brazil to fill the individual spot. The FEI at a meeting after the 2012 Olympics formally annulled the rule.
Yvonne was declared the winner of the single qualification spot available for Central and South America and thus an individual start for the Dominican Republic at Rio.