Top coach George H. Morris to appeal lifetime ban after sexual misconduct claims

Top equestrian coach George H. Morris has said he will appeal against a lifetime ban from equestrian sport, handed down by US Center for SafeSport following claims of “sexual misconduct involving a minor”.

News of the permanent ban (subject to appeal) of the former United States Olympic showjumping chef d’equipe, Olympian and popular coach broke after the details were added to the US Centre for SafeSport’s website and the US Equestrian website yesterday (Monday 5 August).

In a statement issued to Horse & Hound, US Equestrian said: “The U.S. Center for SafeSport has issued a lifetime ban of equestrian trainer, judge and former USEF showjumping technical advisor George H. Morris for violating the SafeSport Code.

“The Center investigated the allegations against Mr Morris, found them credible, issued their ruling, and banned Mr Morris for life. US Equestrian and its affiliates will enforce this ban, which is subject to appeal.”

US Equestrian, which introduced policies and procedures to protect and educate its membership about safe sport in 2013, continued: “We want every athlete, parent, coach, support staff, and trainer to know, if you are a survivor of abuse or suspect abuse of any kind, there are resources and people to help.”

In a statement published on his website, Mr Morris, 81, said: “I am deeply troubled by the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s findings regarding unsubstantiated charges for events that allegedly occurred between 1968 & 1972. I contest these findings wholeheartedly and am in the process of disputing them.

“I have devoted my life to equestrian sport and the development of future riders, coaches and Olympians. Any allegations that suggest I have acted in ways that are harmful to any individual, the broader equestrian community, and sport that I love dearly are false and hurtful.

“I share our community’s commitment to protecting the safety and wellbeing of all our athletes who need reliable guidance and encouragement at every level, of which I have provided for over 50 years. I will continue, as I always have, to proudly support equestrianism and its continued development around the world.”

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During his competitive career Mr Morris won a silver medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He took on the role of Olympic showjumping chef d’equipe in 2005 and led the team to triumph in the 2005 Samsung Super League series. The team also won silver at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, gold at the 2008 Olympic Games, plus gold and individual gold and silver medals at the 2011 Pan Am Games.

He moved from the US team after the London 2012 Games to lead Brazil’s efforts for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is the author of a number of training books and is widely regarded as one of the top showjumping trainers in the world.

*Updated: 8.40pm on Tuesday 6 August to add US Equestrian’s official statement

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