Tamper-proof GPS units on horse and rider are among unprecedented surveillance measures in place at today’s endurance ride in Sartilly (Thursday 28 August) as the FEI strives to avoid a scandal-free Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).
FEI vice-president John McEwen outlined the level of scrutiny in a letter to national federations, urging them to circulate it to riders and officials, and stressing that: “the eyes of the world are upon us”.
Earlier this year Princess Haya handed over responsibility for endurance to Mr McEwen, to prevent any “conflict of interest” questions as a result of her husband Sheikh Mohammed’s involvement in the sport.
Tougher new rules were applied from 1 August, following the FEI’s clean-up after controversy about doping, fatalities and cheating raged for over a year.
“Not only is it important that these rule changes are now in place, it is also critical to the future health of the discipline that there is greater awareness of the commitment to address the issues that endurance has faced, and our determination to overcome them,” said Mr McEwen.
Other surveillance measures at Sartilly include:
- Fixed and roving video surveillance at the vet gates, and in the cooling area and rest areas.
- All video recordings will be in high definition, recorded continuously and with the capability to produce individual, HD and colour pictures.
- An approved FEI timing system to send horses to vet lanes in strict order of arrival, removing any perceived conflict of interest as horses will be automatically diverted away from own-nation officials.
- Additional FEI officials, in excess of those required by the rules.
- More dope testing and a pre-event testing facility.
The French Arab Horse association, L’ACA, has spoken out about the negative impact the endurance scandals have had on the breeding of Arabian horses — France sells many into the Middle East endurance community. The association has started a campaign called “Doping is Killing”, and will be selling posters and bumper stickers on its trade stand at WEG.
First published in H&H magazine 28 August 2014