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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) national federation has lodged a formal appeal to the FEI Tribunal against its provisional suspension from the FEI.

In an unprecedented move, the FEI suspended the national federation of the UAE for an “indeterminate period” on 12 March. This followed an investigation into “major horse welfare issues” and “non-compliance with FEI rules and regulations” in endurance.

The decision was made unanimously by the FEI bureau — which was chaired by president Ingmar De Vos — and the suspension was imposed immediately.

Prior to lodging its appeal, the UAE national federation had sent a formal request asking the FEI Bureau to lift the suspension.

However, the request was rejected by the FEI Bureau and, as a result, an official appeal has been lodged by the UAE national federation.

“It is disappointing that an appeal has been lodged and that the UAE national federation has chosen to go down the legal route, rather than seeking ways to solve the issues and make a lasting commitment to improving the welfare of the horse at endurance events in which it is involved”, said FEI secretary general Sabrina Zeender.

The announcement in March came after a series of serious issues involving doping and injuries to horses during races in the region.

The suspension means the UAE national federation cannot attend or be represented at any session or meeting of any body of the FEI, may not organise any international events, and its members cannot participate in any international events.

However, UAE athletes — in disciplines other than endurance — will be able to compete under the FEI flag at international competitions.