World No. 1 Jessica von Bredow-Werndl Blocked by FEI from Resuming Competition Month After Birth of 2nd Child
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Sept. 15, 2022
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, world No. 1 and Olympic team and individual gold medalist, has been blocked by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) from resuming competition a month after the birth of her second child.
The FEI was reported by Jessica to have told her she must take a full six months of maternity leave if she wants to retain half the points accumulated before taking leave, and cannot start earlier even though she is willing to give up points.
She opted not to appeal to the FEI Tribunal as a decision would likely not be made in time the Ludwigsburg competition Sept. 22-25.
The FEI database has a note on Jessica’s records: “Not competing from 18/04/2022 to 18/10/2022.” That would cover the period after the World Cup in Leipzig, Germany that she won until Oct. 18.
Jessica gave birth to a daughter, Ella Marie, in August.
“I was looking forward to my comeback after the baby break in Ludwigsburg, but my participation was not approved,” she said. “The FEI denied me a permission to start–because of its perception of the regulations on maternity leave.
“During my pregnancy I had applied for maternity leave with the FEI, meaning that for the period of my maternity leave, 50 percent of my ranking points remain. According to the FEI, I am not allowed to start tournaments during this period either.
“I have consulted with the FN (German federation) and we do not share the FEI’s point of view.
“Our interpretation of the regulation is that if female athletes apply for maternity leave, the FEI must grant at least six months. But it is not a rule that an athlete MUST take six months breaks.
“So the female athletes should be allowed to end their maternity leave earlier. With the month they first restart, receiving the existing points from the previous payment period ends.
“I know the rules and would have assumed losing the relevant ranking points with a start in Ludwigsburg. Not even allowed to start now, I find it simply unfair and cannot understand the decision given the wording of the FEI regulation.”
The relevant part of the rule states: “…if the maternity/medical leave lasts less than six (6) months, no points will be retained from the corresponding month of the preceding year.”
“This has led to the assumption that by deliberately waiving the calculation of the world ranking points, I can also start again,” she said.
“Since before the tournament a decision by the FEI tribunal would not be foreseen, I have agreed with the FN and we waive to go to the FEI tribunal and fight for a start there.
“So I unfortunately have to withdraw my participation (also nationally) and am very sad not to be allowed to get my horses to the start
“I hope for the future (for my colleagues) that the rules will be adjusted.”
The German federation legal advisor, Constanze Winter, said:
“Our interpretation of the rule is that when athletes request maternity leave, the FEI must grant at least six months. On the other hand, it is not regulated that an athlete must also take a six-month break. The athletes can therefore end it earlier.
“The month in which they start again for the first time, they no longer receive the old points from the previous accrual period.
“The purpose of the regulation is that the athletes should not suffer any disadvantages from a health-related break. They only need to be protected for the duration of the health incapacity. The doctors can best decide how long this has to be.”