August 24, 2008

The reuptation of horse sports at the Olympic Games took yet another battering after it was revealed a late-night meeting took place over judging during the dressage competition.

First eventing had its "issues", with a cross-country jump change causing friction at the highest levels. Showjumping is weighed down by the doping of four horses during the competition in Hong Kong. And on August 18 dressage technical delegate Mariette Withages called a meeting at 1.30am to address judging concerns - but only four of the 11 teams knew about it.

The meeting took place between teams from the US, Germany, The Netherlands, and Denmark and the ground jury, appeal committee and two FEI officials, according to media reports.

Once the other teams learned of the early-morning discussions, another meeting was called with all teams present the next day.

A detailed report on the meeting by FEI Second Vice President Chris Hodson concluded that the meetings had not affected the judging.

He said: "I am clear that the judging was not affected and that the two meetings produced common understanding. The first meeting should have been notified to all.

"The judges agreed that the best course is transparency, meaning a willingness to discuss markings and principles with athletes and the media; this is already being done, but as always can be improved," Hodson said.

The FEI said that the procedure for such meetings would "be tightened so that this will not happen again."