by Fran Jurga | 12 December 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
For the past three weeks, this blog has tried to present readers with primary source documents related to a major change in mediation policy which was voted in at the FEI General Assembly in Copenhagen by a majority of national federations that make up the FEI.
Unfortunately the vote represents such a radical departure from the previous policy that the dissenting nations have been unable to accept the vote. These dissenting nations include the majority of the equestrian super-power nations, with the exception of the United States and a few others.
The issue: the vote approved allowing medication, including Bute, Banamine, and Isoxsuprine, in competition horses at the highest level of sport in all disciplines. FEI President Princess Haya has asked for a postponement of implementation of the new rules until April and has, according to most sources in the press, asked national federations if they would consider a postponement to the 2010 General Assembly. The Jurga Report does not have a copy of FEI correspondence making that request. It is critical, because it would mean that the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010 would be conducted under old FEI rules, with a zero tolerance for medications on the current (2009) forbidden list. It is, however, referred to in a letter quoted in this blog post.
On Thursday, New Zealand made a statement to the FEI and published their letter on their web site for the world to see. They are clearly and eloquently aligning themselves with the dissenters and say that they reserve the right not to send a New Zealand team to the WEG in Kentucky if they don't like the medication policy.
New Zealand also objected to the way that the rule change was presented for voting.
Both sides of this debate make passionate and compelling cases for their sides: it is in the best interest of the horse to alleviate minor pains; it is the in the best interest of the horse not to mask signs of pain. Either side may be right, depending on the judge.
This complex issue is not going away but it appears that the World Equestrian Games' integrity and unity of participation are priorities. We can only wait and see what happens next. From here I can see horsemen all over the world gearing up for a blazing spring season to qualify for their national teams and travel to WEG in Kentucky.
With or without medication, there will be great horse sport next spring and summer culminating in the world's greatest next fall. Who would have guessed that some moments of throat-catching drama would come from politics as well as from the arena?
Key statements from the 10 December 2009 letter to Alex McLin, Chief Executive & Secretary General, FEI
? The process by which the Progressive List was introduced into the agenda and papers of the General Assembly in Copenhagen at such a late stage is unacceptable to this national federation. Our international federation should be working to the highest standards of governance and the late notice of this list, which did not allow for adequate consultation time with our veterinarians and members, has done the FEI a significant disservice.
? Our understanding is that the Progressive List was added to the agenda without the formal support of either the FEI Bureau or the FEI Veterinary Committee. This demonstrates a further lack of good process in the presentation of important matters to the General Assembly.
? ESNZ voted against the Progressive List in Copenhagen and continues to strongly object to the re-introduction of NSAIDs in our sport. New Zealand has a fundamental and unequivocal belief that the use of NSAIDs in competition is detrimental to the standards of horse welfare that we set in this country. Their use also compromises the image of our sport with competitors, supporters, sponsors and public alike.
? The controversy surrounding the Progressive List has had a damaging effect on the introduction of the FEI's Clean Sport initiative which received, and continues to receive, widespread support from NFs including NZL.
? ESNZ will continue to maintain a zero tolerance for these NSAIDs within our national medication control programme.
? The Board of ESNZ is pleased to learn of the FEI's wish to postpone the introduction of the Progressive List to allow for a fuller debate at the 2010 General Assembly in Chinese Taipei. NF NZL supports this postponement as it ensures that NSAIDs will not be re-introduced to the sport during 2010 and hopefully not beyond.
? The proposed postponement would ensure a ?clean' World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. In the event that a majority of NFs do not support the postponement, the Board of ESNZ reserves its right to consider the participation of the New Zealand Team at WEG 2010.
?) For clarity, ESNZ wishes to record that Christopher Hodson, FEI Second Vice President, was not present during yesterday's Board meeting.
The letter is signed by Jim Ellis, Chief Executive and Secretary General, Equestrian Sports New Zealand.