USEF President David O’Connor and CEO John Long, Explain USEF Position on CAS Decision in a Press Conference This Morning

August 22, 2004 Athens, Greece –

This morning David O’Connor, President of the USEF and John Long, Chief Executive Officer, further explained the situation in Wednesday evening’s incident involving Bettina Hoy in the stadium jumping phase of the Eventing competition, and the resulting decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

O’Connor: Obviously, from a sport point of view I think we all, from the United States, Great Britain, France, we are pleased with the outcome of this situation. And, from our point of view, it is a very unfortunate situation to be in – period – for the sport. Our heart goes out to Bettina [Hoy] and the German Team for having a medal taken away in a situation like this. But really, from a sport’s point of view, we didn’t really have a choice – in the fact that to uphold the rules and uphold the integrity of our sport, the process had to happen. And I believe that if the positions had been reversed that any country, or any other people, this due process would have happened. So, it is not a country’s problem, it is a sport’s problem. And it was very, very unfortunate. Our hearts go out to her. But upholding the rules and upholding the integrity of our sport has to be the number one priority for any of us. And we believed that this decision backed that up and it was the right, and needed, thing to happen.

…In the rules, the Jury of Appeals has the right to overturn a decision that has the possibility of [being] an interpretation of the rules. The situation was not an interpretation of a rule. It was very, very clear that a black-and-white mistake of going to the start line twice. So, there was no interpretation of what could have happened or might have happened. The fact was, and nobody disputed the fact that there was a crossing of the line twice.

…I believe that she [Bettina Hoy] didn’t realize that she crossed the line the first time. The fact is that after the bell, a starting of the time by crossing the line, you are allowed to do that once without crossing the tracks which would then cause a stop for, or having any other change in the time.

CAS decided in the favor that the Ground Jury had the right on the Appeal…that the Ground Jury makes the call on the field of play. Those things should not be overturned by a separate entity. Basically, the mistake…that happened was that right when Bettina was done, the competition basically should have stopped at that point, and not have the next rider come in and continue. The competition should have been stopped, in order to fix it right there.

There is no question that we would have loved for this not to happen. Obviously, you would have loved for Bettina not to have made that mistake, and for the judges not have made their mistake. But, again, if you allow this…because there was a mistake…if it were allowed to continue on, the interpretation of the rules in the future are completely in jeopardy. If somebody makes this mistake in the future, the interpretation of that rule suddenly becomes very questionable, because in the end,…if you allow this to happen you can “blow the whistle” and somebody could circle and circle and circle, for 45 seconds, before the first jump.

The fact is that you are only allowed to go across the starting line once.

The FEI has to look into the Jury of Appeal process and how it needs to keep its independence in future athlete problems. The FEI is supposed to create a level playing field. That is there number one job. They need to look into their independence.

John Long: This situation would not have occurred if this incident would have been dealt with immediately on the field of play. We wouldn’t be having this press conference and we wouldn’t be discussing the loss of a medal for a terrific rider. And, it is bittersweet for us to be able to take these medals that should have been taken care of on the field of play.

The FEI has issued a press release…which essentially, in my view, disagrees with the decision of CAS. I think the press release is arrogant and I think it is completely inappropriate.

If you read the release, the FEI accepts the verdict but the goes on to say that it disagrees – that it has a different interpretation. I think it is incredibly unfortunate that they would say that. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s insulting to all of the countries involved.

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The United States Equestrian Federation Inc.(USEF), as the National Equestrian Federation of the U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show jumping, and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines of equestrian competition. As the country’s largest multi-breed organization, the Federation has over 80,000 members and recognizes more than 2,800 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.

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