FEI to Consider Alleged Judging Bias by Elizabeth McMullen In Canada’s Olympic Qualifying Scores
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 25, 2016–The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee on Tuesday will consider whether alleged bias by Canadian judge Elizabeth McMullen impacted Canada’s final Olympic qualifying event.
The six-member committee will weigh statements made by other judges at the Cedar Valley, Ontario CDI3* in mid June involving scores and comments allegedly made by the top ranked FEI 5* judge to make sure Karen Pavicic and Don Daiquiri would not go to the Rio Games.
The event was key to the selection of Megan Lane on Caravella for one of two individual places for Canada at Rio.
At the heart of the case is a statement allegedly made by Elizabeth McMullen, president of the ground jury at the event: “I marked those two up to knock Karen Pavicic out, as I don’t like her horse’s contact and do not want her going to Rio.”
The statement was contained in documents submitted to the FEI and seen by dressage-news.com.
The foreign judge on the ground jury was Stephen Clarke of Great Britain, the FEI Judge General but it is not known whether his report included references to the allegation.
Although Elizabeth McMullen is both a Canadian and United States “S” judge, a young horse and para equestrian judge and the judging directly impacted her country’s Olympic contenders, Equestrian Canada has declined to get involved but left it in the hands of the Switzerland-based horse sport governing body.
The FEI Dressage Committee has already decided not to change the results of the Grand Prix at Cedar Valley.
Equestrian Canada cited that finding in deciding to name Belinda Trussell and Anton and Megan Lane and Caravella for the Olympics. Belinda and Anton had a virtually insurmountable lead at the top of the Canadian standings and did not compete at Cedar Valley.
The Cedar Valley show was financially supported by the equestrian group that employs Megan.
Elizabeth McMullen awarded the highest scores of the five judges that was an overall personal best result for Megan and Caravella, who rode on the Canadian team at the 2014 World Games as did Karen Pavicic and Don Daiquiri.
The results were enough to dislodge Karen and Don Daiquiri from the second place. She then traveled to Europe to seek to restore her second place standing but was unsuccessful.
The FEI codex covering the behavior of judges states in part: “A judge must avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest. A judge must have a neutral, independent and fair position towards riders, owners, trainers, organizers and other officials and integrate well into a team. Financial and/or personal interest must never influence or be perceived to influence his/her way of judging.”
Violations of the codex give the FEI and the dressage committee the right to discipline a judge by either a warning letter, temporary suspension or removal from the FEI dressage judges list.
Elizabeth McMullen will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in August, 2017. A change in the retirement age is under consideration and judges can seek up to two years of extensions.
She was scheduled to judge at the World Young Horse Championships in Ermelo, Netherlands this week and has been named by the FEI to be the technical delegate at the World Cup Dressage Final in Omaha next March.