Former FEI Endurance Committee head suspended over UAE race controversy


gallop-endurance400The FEI has provisionally suspended a veterinarian who once chaired its Endurance Committee for allegedly failing to follow the rules and his purported involvement in several events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in which duplicate results were submitted.

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender said the suspension of Dr Hallvard Sommerseth, who heads the Veterinary Department at the UAE Equestrian Federation, was for an indefinite period.

A statement from the FEI said Zeender’s decision had the full support of FEI President Ingmar De Vos.

The provisional suspension has been imposed in accordance with Article 156.1 of the FEI General Regulations.

Sommerseth, who is a former member of the FEI Bureau, may not take part or be involved in the organisation of any FEI competitions or events, or any event under the jurisdiction of a national federation while under suspension.

The FEI said it was imposed as a result of Sommerseth’s “consistent failure to comply with FEI Rules and Regulations over a period of several years”.

Zeender alleged Sommerseth had failed to observe the FEI’s rules and regulations while acting as an FEI official at several FEI international endurance events over three years from April 2012 to February 2014.

The FEI’s statement said: “By allowing the events to take place without accurate timing systems he failed in his responsibility as technical delegate and this failure was a contributory factor in duplicate results being submitted to the FEI.

“In addition to his role as a technical delegate, Sommerseth also acted as a ground jury member at several of the events.”

The FEI said the suspension was based on the findings of a report produced by the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit, which was asked by Zeender earlier this year to investigate duplicate results submitted to the FEI from endurance events in the UAE.

According to the report, timing systems were not used at these events and accurate timings were not taken of each competitor’s phases, which must be done in accordance with the FEI’s endurance rules.

Instead, times submitted in the official results provided to the FEI were copied from other events.

Sommerseth was a member of the FEI Bureau from 1998 to 2007 during his term as chairman of the Endurance Committee, and he subsequently became an honorary Bureau member.

He was also a member of the FEI Veterinary Committee from April 2007 until November 2011.

He became a course director for endurance judges, technical delegates and veterinarians in September 2009, and was also a 4* endurance course designer (from January 2013), a 4* endurance veterinary treatment official (January 2012), and a 4* endurance judge (January 2009).

He has been an official veterinarian for jumping, dressage and endurance, and a 4* endurance technical delegate, since January 2009.

Sommerseth has 30 days to appeal the decision to the FEI Tribunal from the date of notification, which was September 1.

Under the terms of the legally binding agreement signed by the FEI and the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) at the end of July, the EEF agreed that any sanctions imposed by the FEI would also be implemented and enforced at national level.

The events and duplicate results in the UAE were used specifically for qualification purposes. The FEI IT Department is currently removing all such events from the FEI calendar and deleting all duplicate results. Any horse/rider combinations that used these duplicate results for qualification for subsequent events, and were therefore ineligible, have already either been or will be disqualified.

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