What is with Mission Control, anyway? The complete absence of press releases on Isabell Werth’s, and now Michael Whitaker’s, drug busts, led me to believe they are all on summer vacation; except Switzerland’s national day isn’t until August first. I know there must be someone rattling around HQ, because a video message from HRH and Sec Gen Alex McLin just went up on the site (http://www.fei.org/FEI/News/Pages/Flash_Podcasts.aspx). By the by, I have pasted the link to the video not because it bears any news or interesting information. Quite the contrary, in fact. The seven minute podcast put me in mind of Big Brother – from the book, not the reality TV show. HRH and Mr. McLin take turns answering questions which silently appear on screen in the FEI’s fave tone of purple. Rather than making eye contact with their public, they both stare slightly off screen at an imaginary interviewer.

The questions sound interesting, but the answers tend to just point out what everyone already knows, or they ignore the question altogether. Case in point: the last and most intriguing question (especially considering the aforementioned doping suspensions) is “How much of a collaborative process has this been – and what stage are we at today?” Never mind the crappy sentence construction. I don’t know why they even bothered with the second half of the question, because Mr. McLin doesn’t acknowledge it, never mind dignify it with an answer. A toolbar on the screen shows how much time is left on the video; I sat on the edge of my seat, waiting for him to say something about the German Federation or the recent suspensions, getting anxious as the video got closer and closer to the end. As the Sec Gen droned on, identifying the stakeholder groups by name with agonizingly precise enunciation, I sat there thinking, ok he’s got 30 seconds to give a status report…ok only 15 seconds…10 seconds…what on earth can he say in 8 seconds…aw come on! No answer at all? They made up their own questions and then didn’t answer them. Sophism? An exercise in futility? Or just a little Orwellian license? I’m sure there was meant to be a message (and I’m also sure I’m now knee-deep in doo-doo with HQ), but unless the message is “we are taking ourselves very seriously so you should take us seriously too”, I fail to see the value in this podcast. Anyone who is even vaguely interested in the doping issue will learn nothing from watching it, other than that HRH has very expressive eyebrows. She really does.

Why all this effort on the video, and not a single statement about the ‘non-collaborators’ who have been splashed all over the media – from German TV to Horse and Hound? And why does Horse and Hound get its own private viewing of an FEI statement regarding Michael Whitaker, anyway? (http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/285171.html) There is still a resounding silence from Mission Control regarding Isabell’s doping charge, too. That news is now so old that if they wait any longer the FEI will rival Equine Canada’s turtle pace with press releases (the most recent EC missive to hit my inbox was today’s announcement of Evi Strasser’s results at a show in Austria which took place three weeks ago, and whose results were posted online immediately afterward by Eurodressage, Dressage Direct, etc). Maybe there are legal reasons for not issuing a release – but at least the FEI could issue something that says they are not able to comment at this time…ah, I think I need to go ride my horse and remember why I care at all.

On a happier note, Happy belated Canada Day, and to all my readers from south of the border, happy Fourth of July!