Following the disqualification of US rider McLain Ward and his horse Sapphire from the 2010 FEI World Cup Showjumping Finals in Geneva, Switzerland on April 16, the FEI has taken another look at its thermography testing program.
Last week the FEI stated that their investigation found that Sapphire was incorrectly eliminated from the second round; however, Sapphire's disqualification from the final round of the World Cup remains in place. Ward was awarded all ranking points and prize money related to his second place finish in the second round.
The US Equestrian Federation, McLain Ward and team veterinarian Tim Ober stated that they did not agree with the FEI on the question of whether Sapphire displayed a level of sensitivity that justified her disqualification from the third round of the World Cup and also disagreed with the process followed. However, the FEI reports, "in the best interest of the sport, they have dropped their legal case against the FEI and will not challenge this disqualification."
In a separate statement, USEF acknowledged the FEI judgment and said it would not pursue the issue: "In the spirit of competition everywhere and our sport specifically, Sapphire's disqualification from the Final will not be challenged even though the USEF does not agree with the FEI that the mare displayed a level of sensitivity, nor do they agree with the process that resulted in her disqualification."
So we come to today's publication of changes and clarifications to the program, which are listed below, verbatim, as provided by the FEI today.
The FEI has undertaken a review of the Protocol for Thermography and Clinical Examination (Hypersensitivity of Legs) and, in an effort to further strengthen the Protocol, has issued the following mandatory guidelines to be applied by the Veterinary Commissions appointed for FEI Events.
The new guidelines state:
(i) all Horses that are tested pursuant to the Protocol for Thermography and Clinical Examination will continue to undergo a thermography examination as one part of the evaluation process for hypersensitivity;
(ii) no horse may be retroactively eliminated from a Competition pursuant to the Protocol for Thermography and Clinical Examination;
(iii) the Person Responsible, or his or her designee, will be presented with a written form if his or her horse is disqualified for hypersensitivity that expressly describes the examination process and the rights of the Person Responsible under the circumstances;
(iv) if any Horse is disqualified pursuant to the Protocol more than twelve (12) hours prior to a Competition, the Person Responsible, or his or her designee, will be advised that a written request to the Ground Jury may be submitted within 30 minutes of being notified that the horse is disqualified, for the Horse to be re-examined pursuant to the Protocol. Such request must be granted and the Horse will be re-examined prior to the next Competition at a time determined by the Ground Jury on the day of the Competition. If upon re-examination it is not clear and obvious that the horse is unfit to compete due to signs of hypersensitivity, the horse shall be allowed to compete in that next Competition. However, the horse remains eligible for examination under the Protocol throughout the entire Event. This specific written request opportunity may only be exercised one (1) time during any Event for the same horse.
The new guidelines are effective immediately.