Oh my! Things are rapidly going from bad to perplexing in the Germany vs. FEI s-i-t-u-a-t-i-o-n. Press releases issued by Mission Control this week reveal a couple of new head scratchers. The FEI Tribunal issued its decision regarding the FEI Bureau’s request for temporary suspension of Marco Kutscher, FEI Bureau member Hanfried Haring and recently departed team vet Björn Nolting – for alleged knowledge or participation in the incident involving Kutscher’s horse in Hong Kong. The Tribunal consists of seven wise men from a diversity of countries – Israel to Argentina, though it’s interesting to note that there are no North Americans. Of course the responsibility of this all-male lineup is to read the fine print, weigh the facts and then tell everyone how it affects the parties, and not to judge whether the rules make any sense…“the Tribunal denied the request for provisional suspensions on legal grounds [for Kutscher and Haring], reasoning that unlike the applicable provisions under the anti-doping rules, the rules in horse abuse cases did not allow for suspension prior to a final decision on the merits of the case.” Can we please add an item to the FEI Ethics Panel’s to-do list? Something along the lines of creating a rule that people implicated in HORSE ABUSE be temporarily suspended? Perhaps by their toe nails from the nearest tree?
Since Nolting was ‘unable to be heard’ at last week’s hearing (maybe because he can’t shout that loud from whatever far-away place he’s taken himself off to – but this is pure speculation on my part) the Tribunal has not ruled on his temporary suspension. But since he’s no longer the show jumping team vet, I suppose the point is moot. Unless you are a German dressage team member, since he said he would continue to look after the dressage horses – oh wait, never mind. Now that the entire team has been disbanded he doesn’t have a team to look after anyway. Double moot.
Now for some pondering on that disbanded team. How can a team that no longer exists have finished second at the Nations Cup this week? http://www.horse-canada.com/?p=2362 I thought that the team dissolution was an effort on the part of the German feds to underline the principles of respectful and ethical team membership, horse welfare and fair play. According to the word nerds at Oxford, a principle is a ‘fundamental truth’. The only thing that’s fundamentally true about the Germans participating in the Nations Cup a week after dissolving the entire team is that the latter action contradicts the former – some would even venture to use the term ‘nullify’. Maybe what the Teutons really meant to say was that they are disbanding the team except when a team is needed to compete in the usual calendar of major international events. In which case the term ‘empty posturing’ would come to mind.
There is just one more little puzzlement to share from the FEI’s announcement regarding the Tribunal’s decision. Last week the missive about seeking suspension levelled an unequivocal accusation at Haring: “he had knowledge of the relevant facts and did not report them to the relevant authorities.” This week’s release contained a quote from HRH to the effect that the Bureau was following a routine matter of course “to ensure that a person who is in a position of authority is cleared first of any involvement in the specific issue, given the available evidence…Haring remains a Member of the Bureau and his fellow Bureau Members will accord him the respect that he deserves.” Gee, do you think someone lawyered up? There’s quite a difference between saying he covered up the abuse of Cornet Obolensky and explaining away the request for suspension as no more than a formality.
I am hereby issuing a DQ alert for next week’s blog. You can read all about Edward Gal winning the Dutch Championships in a grey frock, what Christilot Boylen has been up to with a handsome young devil named Ronaldo (yes, it’s a horse), and what I learned from Richard Johnson and FEI TV’s head honcho Christian Osterode when we finally managed to connect by phone last week. Oh yes, and one more thing. I might finally divulge the identity of the Hunk. Tschüs!