Thursday, October 17, 2013

Doping issues and horse deaths may lead to ban on endurance racing, warns Pierre Arnould - Full Article

Belgian coach and FEI committee member Pierre Arnould says endurance racing could be made illegal if action is not taken to solve doping and horse welfare issues

By Pippa Cuckson
16 Oct 2013

Endurance racing could become extinct if the world governing body of equestrianism cannot solve the horse welfare crisis in the Middle East, according to a senior figure in the sport.

Pierre Arnould, Belgian national coach and a member of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) endurance committee, believes the FEI is not coping with the doping scandal afflicting the second horse sport in which Sheikh Mohammed is the major global player.

Aside from doping, stress fractures in the high speed form of endurance racing favoured in the Middle East are an escalating concern. Arnould says dozens of horses died in or after competitions during the 2011-2012 Middle East season.

“I do not want to be fighting any country involved in endurance,” Arnould told Telegraph Sport. “I want my children to have the same long career in endurance I enjoyed, but if we don’t do something quickly, endurance will not exist in a few years – someone will have banned it.”

Endurance is the FEI’s fastest-growing discipline but received little media attention until the parallel scandal at Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin racing stables in April. UAE endurance horses figure in 33 FEI Tribunal doping hearings, with more than 20 trained at stables owned by the ruler of Dubai and other members of the Maktoum family.

Arnould and others have attempted solutions from within in recent years. He says the FEI endurance committee – specialist senior riders, judges, trainers and vets – agreed “drastic” measures with FEI secretary-general Ingmar de Vos in June which included tougher penalties covering horse-owners, federations and officials as well as riders and trainers, and lifetime bans; and the “creation of an incorruptible committee to observe the behaviour of officials”.

Arnould says money has been offered during rides to officials, and that he has witnessed testimony supporting his allegations...

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