The FEI Bureau has today welcomed a series of proposals for reform of the Endurance discipline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but agreed unanimously that further information needs to be provided by the UAE National Federation before lifting of the provisional suspension can be considered. The FEI Bureau provisionally suspended the UAE National Federation in March of this year following an investigation by the FEI into major horse welfare issues and non-compliance with FEI Rules and Regulations in Endurance.
The Bureau gave a clear mandate to FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender to work with the relevant departments in FEI Headquarters and seek additional feedback from the FEI Bureau members, before requesting more concrete details on the proposals from the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF). The proposals were contained in a 10-page document, which was sent to the FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender on Friday 5 June.
The EEF proposals include:
Creation of an EEF Endurance Committee of Enquiry to oversee full application of the rules;
Involvement of the National Olympic Committee and National Anti-Doping Committee;
Training and education of athletes, trainers, owners and officials;
The possibility to ban organisers for non-compliance with the rules;
Ensuring EEF national rules are fully in compliance with the FEI rules and regulations;
Working more closely with the FEI, including welcoming FEI observers at EEF national events;
Full cooperation with the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit inquiry into the duplication of results at a number of events in the country.
The EEF accepts that any breach of these commitments could result in the suspension being reinstated and the withdrawal of the 2016 FEI World Endurance Championships, which were allocated to the UAE in December 2014.
The EEF also detailed the new legislation that has been introduced in the UAE prohibiting the trade or use of banned substances in horse racing and equestrian sports in the country and the substantial fines that will be imposed for breaches.
The Bureau discussed the proposals in detail before reaching unanimous agreement that the Secretary General and FEI Headquarters should work together with the EEF to finalise the agreement between the two organisations. At that point, and only once the Bureau is completely satisfied that horse welfare will be ensured at all times, that FEI Rules and Regulations will be fully implemented and rigorously enforced, and that all pending issues have been addressed, the Bureau will vote on the lifting of the suspension.
“We welcome the proposed agreement of the UAE and see it as a very positive development that they are working to come to a solution”, the FEI President Ingmar De Vos said today. “The provisional suspension can only be lifted if there is a clear commitment to respect the rules before the Bureau can consider the lifting of the suspension. It is clear that more still needs to be done and we require some further work on the details, but their proposals are a very good start to work on the process for reinstatement.”