2 senior aides of Sheikh Mohammed have been dropped from the new task force charged with “cleaning up” endurance and his funding will no longer be accepted, following an embarrassing FEI climbdown last week.
News that Sheikh Mohammed would have influence caused outcry on social media. The Dutch and Swiss equestrian federations criticised the FEI’s “collaboration” with the Dubai ruler, whose stables are central to the welfare crisis engulfing the Middle Eastern sport.
Their joint statement said: “Even if Sheikh Mohammed is the current world endurance champion, his 6-month suspension for using prohibited substances [in 2009] cannot be denied, nor 24 positive cases from his stables in past years.”
Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, general manager of Dubai Equestrian Club, and Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyer Andrew Holmes are replaced on the task force by Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa of Bahrain, chairman of FEI group VII (Middle East), and Frank Kemperman, organiser of Aachen.
Other members are FEI secretary general Ingmar De Vos; Brian Sheahan, chairman of the FEI endurance committee; Jim Ellis, chief executive of the New Zealand federation, and Alain Storme, the only remaining link to the Maktoums.
Storme is long-term business partner of showjumper Paul Darragh, who coached Sheikh Mohammed’s wife, the FEI president Princess Haya, during her competitive days.
De Vos said: “We have received comments from some federations that they do not agree with the composition of the task force and the Bureau has today agreed to review that. Self-policing is a sign of good governance.”