Articles: Press Release
USEF President David O'Connor and CEO John Long, Explain USEF Position
on CAS Decision in a Press Conference This Morning
United States Equestrian Federation
For Immediate Release
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
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.
For more information contact Maria Partlow
Athens telephone: 693 6733136