Appeal dismissed over moves to replace showjumping in the modern pentathlon

The decision opens the way for the sport's international governing body to get Olympic approval to replace showjumping at the 2028 Games.
A pentathlon competitor at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Photo by RachelC

The showjumping component of the modern pentathlon is on track to be dropped for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 after a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The court, the highest legal authority in the sports realm, dismissed an appeal lodged by the Danish Modern Pentathlon Association (MPADK).

The ruling allows the process of choosing a discipline to replace riding in the modern pentathlon in Los Angeles to resume.

The MPADK challenged a February 1 decision by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) Court of Arbitration. That court confirmed the validity of the October 31, 2021, decision taken by the UIPM Executive Board to put a proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a format in Los Angeles with riding replaced by another sporting element.

The UIPM is the international governing body for the sport.

The replacement discipline is to be determined by a consultation process. The decision was ratified by the UIPM Congress on November 27-28, 2021.

The Danish body appealed to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport over the UIPM Court of Arbitration decision, seeking an annulment.

The Danes argued that the UIPM Executive Board had no power to make the crucial decision of October 31, 2021, and asserted that it had breached the Statutes and the UIPM Code of Ethics.

They further argued that the issue should have been taken to the world governing body’s international congress, “being the only legal entity under UIPM to make decisions of this character and magnitude”.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport panel in charge of the matter held a hearing with the parties by video conference on May 19 this year.

The panel, after considering the evidence, dismissed the appeal and confirmed the validity of the challenged decision.

The court stressed that its decision only means that a proposal may be submitted by the UIPM Executive Board to the IOC in view of the possible replacement of the equestrian discipline at the 2028 Olympic Games.

Any subsequent format change of the modern pentathlon event would have to be adopted by the competent bodies according to the procedures set by the UIPM Statutes, it said.

The full reasons for the court’s decision will be issued to the parties in due course.

The UIPM said in a statement it welcomed the dismissal of the appeal. “UIPM takes very seriously its legal responsibilities and abides by the UIPM Constitution and Statutes in all decision-making processes.

“The CAS ruling confirms the legality of the decision taken by the UIPM Executive Board and enables UIPM to continue its democratic and transparent efforts to provide a secure future for Modern Pentathlon in the Olympic Games through the New Pentathlon Discipline process.”

The modern pentathlon was introduced at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, representing the range of skills required by a cavalry officer, with elements of fencing, swimming, riding, shooting and running.

The discipline raised controversy during the Tokyo Olympics last year, with difficulties in the showjumping phase, with one rider reduced to tears over the behavior of her mount. A coach was seen to strike a horse on its rump.

The UIPM has received more than 60 proposals to replace showjumping, with obstacle racing seen as the frontrunner.

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