Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Weed Out Weak Officials, If Endurance is to Have a Chance - Full Article

Cuckson Report | April 9, 2019

It’s seven years since the inaugural FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne – April 2012. I remember it very well, for I was approached during a break by a senior vet who urged me to by-pass the eventing meeting I was heading to, and attend the endurance debate instead.

The endurance, in fact, proved news-worthy indeed. We media (all two of us!) arrived late, but once we’d got our notebooks out, distinguished officials stood up and spoke frankly about doping, cheating and death – many of them clearly directing their remarks towards the press. That, I then realised, had been no spontaneous encounter with the vet over coffee; 2012 was the first “open” conference about endurance since 2007, and it seemed quite a few participants wanted the media there to write it all down, the good, the bad and the (mostly) ugly.

That’s the occasion that piqued my interest in the malaise. I have written extensively about it ever since – as valued readers of my blog know only too well…

Seven years, though: desert racing has now crashed from grim to gruesome. So at the eighth edition of the FEI Sports Forum next week, a whole day is devoted to endurance. We will hear recommendations of the special FEI committee that has slaved away since October on potential reforms, hoping to succeed where previous reviews failed.

The day is entitled “Re-shaping Endurance,” though it might just as easily be called “Last Chance at the OK Corral.” There is not much wrong with existing FEI endurance rules, but there’s a lot wrong with their enforcement. The blind-eye attitude of certain officials owes more to the Wild West than to the military/gentlemanly heritage of the Olympic equestrian sports...

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