Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Endurance controversy continues at breakneck speed

By Neil Clarkson on Jun 24, 2014

The endurance storm of the past year appears close to becoming a Category 5 hurricane.

There were hopes that the long process of reform driven by the FEI in the past year would see the sport leave behind the welfare and drugging controversies centred on several Group VII nations in the Middle East, but that may well prove to be a forlorn dream.

The largely unspoken fear throughout the reform process – at least on an official level – has always been that the Middle Eastern nations will not be able to reconcile the new rules, which come into force on August 1, with their aggressive style of desert racing.

The evidence that emerged from last month's Compiègne CEI event in France would lead many to the conclusion that the gulf between what Western nations consider is acceptable in the sport of endurance and what the Middle Eastern nations think is OK is perilously close to insurmountable.

The events of Compiègne prompted five well-respected French endurance vets to pen an open letter which provides a sorry litany of issues that give rise to serious concern.

Ironically, it came just hours after the FEI gave the nod to rules to clean up endurance.

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