David Holmes has left the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) abruptly this afternoon “by mutual agreement”.
He had been executive director of sport at the governing body of horse sport for just 19 months.
David told H&H: “I’m shocked, this has come totally out of the blue this afternoon. It’s a resource issue principally — I was told it is for financial reasons, I suppose it’s the cost of the clean sport programme.”
David joined the FEI in May 2008. He leaves today after “adjustments to the management structure” at its headquarters in Lausanne. There are no immediate plans to fill his position.
In a statement FEI secretary general Alex McLin said: “We are adjusting the way in which resources are being used at headquarters and, with a very strong team of individual sports directors now in place, we are well positioned to move forward.”
He added: “David has been an extremely popular addition to the FEI staff and we are very sorry to lose him.”
David’s exit is the latest of a number of abrupt departures. The former manager of the FEI’s vet department, Fritz Sluyter, left inexplicably just before the Olympic Games in Hong Kong last year, and former secretary-general Michael Stone left in August 2007 with nothing more than a terse announcement about “irreconcilable differences” in implementing the future direction of the organisation.
But David denied any fallout with the FEI — telling H&H this afternoon: “I don’t regret coming here at all. I loved my job – I loved working with the national federations, the president [Princess Haya], Alex [McLin] and the rest of the team. And I’ve made a real difference.”
He added: “There was no disagreement over the bute issue — our job at the FEI headquarters is to implement decisions made by the bureau and the general assembly.”
But David was alone at the FEI in his experience of running the governing body of a horse sport. Before that he had been chief executive of British Dressage for nine years.
As executive director of sport, David headed up the FEI’s sports department, managing their planning, financial and operational activities, liaised with the International Olympic Committee and helped to co-ordinate the World Equestrian Games.
He added: “I haven’t thought what I’ll do next, it’s all too much of a shock. Once I’ve got my head around it, I’ll work out what to do in the future — I love working in sport.”