US Equestrian Membership, Drugs & Medication Fee Hikes To Add Millions to Revenue

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Aug. 14, 2017


The 45 per cent increase in membership fees could bring at least $2 million more to U.S. Equestrian in 2018 while almost doubling drug and medication fees would add more to the national federation annual income.

US Equestrian confirmed that the annual fee increase to $80 from $55 would apply to the 81,000 to 84,000 competition memberships, the first such increase in a decade. Costs have escalated by about 33 per cent in that period, according to the USEF. Members also pay an annual fee to the discipline affiliate, which for the U.S. Dressage Federation is $75.

The increase of $25 for 81,000 members would bring in an extra $2,025,000 and for 84,000 $2.1 million.

US Equestrian reported that membership dues and fees for 2016–the last full year available–were $8,856,875, the single largest source of income for the federation that put total revenue, grants and support at $30,728,170 that year.

The federation did not provide its own estimates of income from the additional membership fees and said it would be “irresponsible” to project drug and medication fees because of variations in the number of horses competing each year.

About 11,000 horses were tested at USEF competitions in 2016, the federation said, producing about 16,000 samples. Each horse is capable of producing two samples, blood and urine.

Drugs and medication fees paid to the federation in 2016 totaled $4,740,507, the second biggest revenue amount.

Tougher drug testing is a high priority.

Murray Kessler, president of US Equestrian, reported in June that the “tougher stance on cheaters” led to a 30 per cent decline in drug violations year over year.

The drugs and medication fee increase per horse, per show “is necessary to fund the battle against cheating on the field of play and to defend the findings of the hearing committee in the court room. It is unfortunate that we all need to pay this tax because of a few bad eggs, but it is the price we must pay for clean sport and a fair and level playing field.”

Other major revenue sources for USEF were sponsorship of $4 million, grants by the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation of $3.9 million, fees and income from competitions $3.3 million, $1.5 from sports programs, almost $1.3 million from the U.S. Olympic Committee and $1 million from international high performance.

The single biggest expense was $9.7 million for salaries followed by international high performance of almost $4.3 million, marketing and communications $3.2 million, drugs and medication expenses of almost $2.5 million, travel at about the same, sports programs $1.5 million and other administrative and finance costs of $1 million. Other significant commitments included $540,000 annual lease of the headquarters building in Lexington, Kentucky, $2.6 million in computer equipment and $2.1 million in laboratory equipment.