Riders ruled out of Tokyo by horse registration errors *H&H Plus*

  • A number of riders have fallen foul of the deadline on horse ownership and will miss out on the Tokyo Games as a result. H&H finds out more

    REGISTRATION issues have ruled a number of combinations out of Tokyo, in what have been described by the FEI as “unfortunate” but “avoidable” cases.

    Riders from Israel, Italy and the Netherlands have been caught out by the 15 January 2021 deadline, by which horses must have been registered as property of owners of the same nationality as the athlete to compete at the Olympics.

    In April, Israeli showjumper Daniel Bluman discovered his mare Gemma W was registered under the incorrect nationality – and not eligible to compete for Israel at the Games. The FEI refused Daniel’s requests for the mare’s nationality to be changed, and he appealed to the FEI Tribunal. 

    The Tribunal acknowledged that proper registration on the FEI database is paramount to the FEI because the federation is not responsible for inputting a horse’s nationality; this is the responsibility of national federations and athletes. The FEI relies on its database to ensure rules are complied with.

    Daniel said he was “extremely disappointed” with the FEI.

    “I felt disrespected, treated as if I was a liar, deceitful, and wrong intended. I truly believe FEI and riders should work together for our sport,” he said.

    An FEI spokesman told H&H the organisation “understands Daniel’s disappointment”.

    “It is unfortunate he missed the deadline to ensure his horse met the nationality requirements, despite the clear reminders issued by the FEI in advance of the deadline,” said a spokesman.

    Dressage rider Dinja van Liere of the Netherlands will not compete at Tokyo on her top ride Hermes as the stallion’s owner, Joop van Uytert, incorrectly appears on the FEI database as German – instead of Dutch.

    A spokesman for the Dutch federation KNHS said Hermes was not on the Netherlands’ long-list by 15 January, and it was discovered the stallion was registered on the FEI database in June 2018 with the correct owner – but an incorrect German residential address, related to a German owner with whom Mr van Uytert co-owns other horses. KNHS maintains the error was the mistake of an FEI intern – and appealed to the tribunal to allow Hermes to compete in Tokyo, but this was rejected.

    KNHS and the owner filed separate appeals against the tribunal’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but on 5 July both were dismissed. Under FEI statutes, the Tribunal and CAS are the only bodies with authority to rule on this matter, so the FEI “considers the matter to be closed”.

    “This is an unfortunate case but regrettably one that was totally avoidable had the straightforward checks been carried out by the Dutch national federation and owner before the 15 January 2021 deadline,” said an FEI spokesman.

    Dressage rider Tatiana Miloserdova has also been affected by the rule. The Russian-born rider switched to Italian nationality in 2018, but the gelding’s nationality was not changed from Russian before the deadline.

    The Italian federation told H&H Tatiana’s FEI ranking secured a dressage place for Italy at the Games and owing to this, and her good performances this season, Tatiana was among the accredited candidates to represent Italy in Tokyo.

    “Unfortunately, the problem with registering her best horse did not allow us to take the combination into consideration,” said a spokesman for the federation.

    “Once the Olympic dressage qualification was confirmed, Francesco Zaza was selected among the potentially eligible riders because he had both the sport and technical requirements to represent Italy.”

    The FEI said the nationality rule “is based on fairness and transparency, and is not simply a formality”.

    “The rule does not provide for exceptions to be granted, and it must be applied consistently to all national federations, athletes and horses to ensure a level playing field,” said the spokesman.

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