FEI investigates ‘biased’ judging allegations as Olympic appeal fails

  • An appeal made by a Canadian dressage rider who felt she should have been selected for Rio has been unsuccessful – but the FEI is investigating connected allegations.

    Karen Pavicic was selected with Don Daiquiri as an “alternate” for the Games but felt she should have been the second confirmed individual, as the country did not qualify for the team event.

    Karen appealed to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) over Equestrian Canada’s decision to select Megan Lane and Caravella, based on allegations of biased judging at Cedar Valley, Ontario, CDI3* (17-19 June).

    In a document publicising his decision, arbitrator Richard W Pound QC explained that Karen was ranked 89th on the FEI dressage rankings list, while Megan was 87th.

    The document reads: “Her position is that the results of a final qualification competition, in which she did not compete (she lives in British Columbia and the competition was in Ontario), was affected by bias on the part of one of the FEI-qualified judges.

    “Prior to that competition, the claimant [Karen] was ranked ahead of the affected party [Megan]. She says that exaggerated marks were given to the affected party by the judge whose conduct is impugned , which had the effect of moving the affected party higher than her in the FEI standings, thereby precluding her nomination as the second rider.

    “The marks given in the qualification competition had the effect of moving the affected party ahead of the claimant by less than five one-hundredths of one per cent.”

    Karen filed statements made by judges and others in support of her claims, and told the arbitrator she was also filing a complaint with the FEI.

    ‘Unproven allegations’

    But Mr Pound added: “I note for the record that the allegations are as yet unproven. I make no findings regarding the allegations. They are, however, very serious and clearly call for further investigation on the part of the FEI.”

    The FEI dressage committee had already investigated the scoring of the event and recommended the results stand, as “there were insufficient grounds for either annulling or changing the results”.

    An FEI spokesman told H&H: “This matter was put on the agenda in order for FEI headquarters to provide the FEI dressage committee with an update on the current situation in relation to this matter.

    “As communicated to Equestrian Canada, and Karen Pavicic, the FEI dressage committee decided, based on the available evidence and judging analysis, that the results of the CDI3* Cedar Valley will stand.

    “The committee also tasked FEI headquarters to follow up on this matter in a fair and thorough manner, looking into any remaining allegations.

    “This follow-up is ongoing, with due process being followed.”

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    Mr Pound concluded that “nothing can be done” to deal with Karen’s request to be selected for Rio, as Equine Canada had “adopted and disseminated the applicable selection procedure, with which the claimant has no complaint”. He said the qualification events had led to official FEI rankings, showing Megan ahead of Karen.

    The report adds: “An arbitrator appointed by the SDRCC has no jurisdiction to override a decision taken in these circumstances by an international federation with respect to a matter that falls within the competence of that international federation.

    “If, in the particular context, the impugned judge acted improperly in some respect, it is for the FEI to determine what the consequences should be.”


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