Controversy over Adelinde Cornelissen’s WEG elimination

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Dutch dressage rider Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich’s Parzival’s elimination from the World Equestrian Games (WEG) last year may not have been within FEI rules.

At the time, the media widely reported technical delegate Dr Wotjek Markowski’s view that FEI, horsesport’s international governing body, rules about blood or foam in the mouth gave the judges “no choice” but to eliminate — and riders no right of appeal.

However, astonishingly, an investigation by continental magazine Horse International found no such rule in either the FEI’s dressage, general or veterinary regulations.

As a consequence, the FEI is creating a new rule covering blood in a horse’s mouth.

But this is of little comfort to dressage riders who have been eliminated in the past.

Parzival, favourite for the two individual silver medals behind Moorlands Totilas, was stopped by ground jury president Stephen Clarke early in his grand prix team test in Kentucky because he had blood around his mouth.

Parzival was later found to have nicked his tongue. But there is no FEI rule specifically covering a bleeding mouth, leaving the door open for legal action by the Dutch federation.

Dutch team manager Sjef Janssen, who is a former member of the FEI dressage committee, said he would have challenged Parzival’s elimination if he had realised a blood-specific rule was not in place.

A spokesman for the Dutch federation said: “At the time of the incident the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation was not aware that this specific rule was not in place.

“We will contact the FEI and talk to them about what our next step will be.”

An FEI spokesman said they had not heard from the Dutch yet.

FEI director of dressage Trond Asmyr contends the issue is covered by rules concerning the welfare of the horse in FEI General Regulations (GRs) 141 and 142 and Article 430.7.6 of the dressage rules.

Ms Cornelissen was unavailable for comment.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (24 February, 2011)