The German modern pentathlon coach seen striking a horse at the Tokyo Olympics has been ordered to attend a course on the “humane treatment of animals”.
The decision came as the disciplinary panel for modern pentathlon’s international governing body, the UIPM, concluded its review of the women’s riding phase of the competition at this summer’s Games.
The panel has also urged the newly created working group to “labour diligently” to modify the sport’s rules ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, in light of the horse welfare concerns that arose in Tokyo.
Coach Kim Raisner was seen to lean over the fence and strike a horse, Saint Boy, who was being ridden by German competitor Annika Schleu at the time (6 August).
The distressing scenes were met with widespread condemnation, and the UIPM promised a review of the day’s events. Ms Raisner was also banned from the remainder of the Tokyo Games.
The UIPM disciplinary panel upheld the decision to ban Ms Raisner from the rest of the Games. It also found her in breach of the rule covering “unsportsmanlike conduct” and ill treatment of a horse for her part in both hitting Saint Boy and encouraging the rider to do the same.
She has been given an “official reprimand” and a warning that any repeat behavior could result in the removal of her coaching credentials and permission to coach at UIPM-sanction competition. She has also been ordered to attend a coach education seminar containing a humane treatment of animals module “at the earliest opportunity” and before taking part in any further UIPM competitions.
Ms Schleu was found not guilty of excessive use of the whip and spurs and no action will be taken against her.
A statement from the panel said Ms Raisner’s behaviour that day stands out as an “anomaly” given her athletic and professional record “is one of exemplary behaviour”, noting her personal contribution to the sport “over many years”.
“That said, Ms Raisner did in fact violate the UIPM competition rules, specifically rule 4.6.8 and her behaviour, that of striking the horse, Saint Boy, and encouraging her athlete to do the same, regardless of the reason, was shocking to this Panel and indeed the world. Ms Raisner’s egregious behaviour cannot go unpunished,” the statement added.
“The panel considered the actions of Annika Schleu when she entered the riding arena mounted on the horse, Saint Boy. Based on the review of evidence available it was determined that the use of the whip or spurs was not excessive and while the situation certainly was distressing for both rider and horse, the panel concluded that there are no animal welfare issues to answer and that no action will be taken.
“The UIPM is committed to the humane treatment of animals and athletes alike and condemns any acts of cruelty and/or abuse to either. Inhumane treatment of animals in any form will not be tolerated, nor will cruelty, bullying or harassment against our athletes and coaches.
“The panel encourages the newly empowered UIPM riding working group to labour diligently towards modifying our rules in the new competition format for Paris 2024 to safeguard and ensure the health, safety and humane treatment of our animals and athletes.”
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