The confusion surrounding the World Endurance Championship continues after the FEI has announced that Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan remains the official winner, despite him not being awarded the gold medal at the medal ceremony.
The event’s organising committee announced on Saturday that bin Sultan Al Nahyan would be stripped of his gold medal because they claimed his horse, Hachim, had tested positive for a banned substance. However, under FEI rules an event organising committee is not allowed to make such a decision and therefore bin Sultan Al Nahyan remains the FEI’s official winner.
After Hachim allegedy failed the doping test, the organising committee disqualified the Emirates combination and presented the gold medal to the second rider to cross the finishing line, France’s Barbara Lissarague, at the award ceremony on Saturday. However, it emerged today (Monday) that the FEI had no prior knowledge of this decision, which the organising committee was not entitled to take.
“It was all done without knowledge of the FEI. It is clear under FEI rules that [the organising committee] didn’t have the right to deal with this case,” says the federation’s spokeswoman Muriel Faenza. “The organising committee has no power to disqualify anybody.”
The FEI have now asked the World Endurance Championship’s organising committee to explain formally “why the official individual winner was not presented with the medal,” according to Faenza.
The FEI hasn’t been officially notified of the results of Hachim’s doping test either. “For the moment, as far as I know, we haven’t even received the results of the lab,” says Faenza. “We heard the rumours, but, officially, we have heard nothing as to why the people presented with the medals are not the ones on the official results signed off by the Ground Jury.”
The FEI expect the World Endurance Championship’s organising committee to reply today.
Meanwhile, Faenza has confirmed that the inquiry into Hachim’s alleged doping case must follow the formal FEI procedure, which was followed, for example, with Ludger Beerbaum and Goldfever 3. Until then, bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the FEI winner.
The row over the gold medal risks to mar an event which made it to the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest number of participants than any other equestrian championship. It also casts a shadow over one of the fastest growing equestrian sports, which doubled the number of international events in the last three years.