Changes to endurance task force following criticism

Frank Kemperman
Frank Kemperman

The FEI Bureau has changed the make-up of the task force charged with finding practical solutions to the problems within endurance, following criticism of its composition. It has also changed its position on accepting funding for the task force from Dubai.

The FEI said the bureau decided during its monthly telephone conference on Tuesday to review the membership following what it said were comments from several national federations.

The two United Arab Emirates representatives, Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, who is general manager of the Dubai Equestrian Club, and lawyer Andrew Holmes, will be removed.

The first replacement is Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, of Bahrain, who chairs the FEI Regional Group VII, which has been at the centre of a year-long storm over welfare concerns and what some national federations view as a cavalier approach to the rules by some riders and some officials. Federations have also been angered by the level of doping infractions in the region in recent years.

The FEI said Al Khalifa had a full understanding of the situation in the Middle East.

The second replacement is Frank Kemperman, of the Netherlands, whom the FEI described as a hugely experienced event organiser, including in endurance, who will be able to assist in the understanding of how new technology and procedures could be deployed in the field of play.

The remaining members, named on the task force late last week, are FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, who will chair it; FEI endurance committee Brian Sheahan; Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis; and Belgium-based racing and equestrian sports expert Alain Storme.

Experts from sports management firm IMG will also be included among the core members, as well as any ad hoc experts the task force may call upon.

De Vos said: “We have received comments from some national federations that they do not agree with the composition of the task force and the bureau has today agreed to review that following this feedback.

“Self-policing is a sign of good governance and feedback from our national federations is important to us.

“Throughout the process of seeking a solution to the issues we are facing in endurance we have worked very closely with our national federations, and when any of them have flagged up something we have taken that on board.”

During the teleconference, the Bureau decided against the offer of funding for the task force from Meydan, the racing enterprise of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The bureau thanked Meydan for its funding offer, but said it was preferable that it was not involved in the process. Meydan is the regulator of several equine-related sports in Dubai.

The Dutch and Swiss equestrian federations had released a statement expressing their regret over the original composition of the task force, but said they were pleased the FEI continued to pay serious attention to the problems within endurance.

Both expressed concern over the relationship of some of the original task force members to Sheikh Mohammed.

Although the endurance issues had been discussed for over a year, “almost nothing had changed,” they said.

They said it was the implementation of existing regulations by incorruptible officials, for the welfare of horses and sporting fairness, that would solve the problems in endurance, not new committees.

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