US showjumper Andy Kocher has been banned for 10 years for “deliberate, methodical and repetitive” use of electric spurs, on numerous horses in training and competition.
A press release on the FEI Tribunal ruling on Kocher was released last week, and the operative decision has now been published.
The FEI legal department told the rider last June that an investigation had been opened following allegations about electric spur use reported to the independent equestrian community integrity unit (ECIU). It was alleged that Mr Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of FEI-registered and national horses in international and national events, and in training.
Disciplinary proceedings against Kocher were opened last October, and he was provisionally suspended.
This month, the Tribunal ruled that “the respondent’s actions based on the evidence
provided throughout these proceedings demonstrate to the comfortable satisfaction of the hearing panel the prolonged use of the electric spurs by the respondent and additionally, that the respondent’s use was deliberate, methodical, repetitive and on numerous horses, both in competition and training.”
Kocher was suspended until 27 October 2030, fined 10,000 francs and ordered to pay 7,500 francs in costs.
All his results from events at which the FEI has photographic evidence of his electric spur use are disqualified. These include the Hickstead Derby meeting in 2018, at which Kocher’s ride Navalo De Poheton suffered a broken leg on the flat after fence four of the Derby, and had to be put down.
He is also disqualified from a CSI3* at Lexington, US, (14-18 May 2019), a CSI2* at Lexington, (22-26 May 2019), two CSI5* shows in Calgary, Canada (5-9 June and 27-30 June 2019), a CSI3* in Traverse City, USA (7-11 August 2019), a CSI3*-W in Columbus, USA (2-6 October 2019) and a CSI4*-W in Toronto, Canada (5-9 November 2019).
Kocher said he intends to appeal immediately to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“The result was expected as the FEI Tribunal was not concerned about the truth of the matter and chose to ignore clear evidence against the FEI’s position,” he claimed. “There was no question during the FEI proceedings that the Tribunal gave great deference to the FEI.”
Kocher said the FEI’s main piece of evidence was a video of a device “purportedly owned by me”.
“A video of this all-important piece of evidence was presented to the FEI,” he said. “They allowed the witness to keep possession of the device. When I asked to examine the device, they were unable to produce it for inspection.
The rider had planned to send Navalo back to his breeder after his retirement as ‘a perfect ending and reward
The rider said he was ‘devastated’ to hear of the investigation
“The FEI’s witnesses testified the device did not even belong to me. The FEI was unable to produce even one steward or show official that ever saw or witnessed the use of the alleged device. [The FEI Tribunal] later chose to allow me an opportunity to inspect the device, after two-thirds of the evidence had been heard, and they offered my counsel one hour to examine the device.
“They learned one month earlier that it had mysteriously disappeared and could not be located.
“There is no question there were many instances that make the appeal of this matter necessary. Everyone deserves a level playing field in these very serious and important matters and I was not afforded a fair hearing.”
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