Horse & Hound has played a part in provoking drastic changes to the FEI’s legal processes, that will prevent future rule-breakers escaping punishment on legal technicalities.

H&H’s coverage of the endurance scandal has revealed significant loopholes in provisions for reporting of offences.

The successful protest against horse abuse at CEI Sakhir, Bahrain, lodged by H&H contributor Pippa Cuckson and former editor Lucy Higginson in March 2014, highlighted the impracticality of the deadline for reporting abuse within 30 minutes of a confirmed result.

H&H then led coverage of the Marmoog horse-swapping scandal.
Pictures of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum riding the real and “fake” Marmoogs in 2012 were unearthed by Pippa Cuckson last year — 18 months too late to meet the previous deadline.

After the legal case collapsed last autumn, the FEI announced the legal review, recommendations from which were discussed by the FEI bureau on 10 June.

A ‘significant step forward’

There are new offences now in the rules of bringing equestrianism into disrepute, match fixing, betting, bribery and corruption, to which no statute of limitations applies.

Statute of limitations for other offences are extended — field-of-play (one year), doping (eight) and all others (five).

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New provisions allow the FEI itself to lodge a protest — currently the prerogative of national federation presidents, officials, chefs d’équipe or, in the latter’s absence, a person responsible or a team vet.

An FEI spokesman said: “This will allow the FEI to start proceedings, which was not possible in the past.”

Subject to approval by the FEI general assembly in November, the new provisions apply from January 2016.

Pippa Cuckson said: “These measures apply to all sports but are a significant step forward in controlling the lawless element in UAE endurance in particular.

“Because the field-of-play in endurance can span 100 miles, offences are often not spotted on video or in pictures until days or even months after the event.”

Ref: H&H 18 June, 2015