FEI Endurance Group Seeks National Federation Agreement

The Fédération Equestre Internationale's (FEI) Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) sent detailed proposed recommendations to the national federations requesting rapid feedback on Nov. 25. The proposals are designed to address the sport's issues and are specifically geared towards reducing the incidence of doping and injuries, as well as putting in place a strategic plan to support the long-term sustainability of the sport.

The seven-page consultation document, which details a total of 37 recommendations, is a follow-up the ESPG presentation of its proposals during the FEI General Assembly in Montreux, Switzerland, earlier this month. The introduction delivered by ESPG Chair Andrew Finding at the General Assembly, plus the presentations given on the day and the group’s “plan on a page” have also been sent to the national federations as part of the ongoing consultation process.

The ESPG asked the national federations for comments on each of the recommendations, grouped together into four categories: foundation for growth; culture and behavior; structure and governance; and communications and marketing.

Both immediate and longer-term actions are detailed, and the ESPG, while agreeing that consultation is a necessary part of the process, is also keen that much of the proposed plan should be put into action without delay. The group urges immediate actions be implemented as soon as possible.

The ESPG notes that important projects such as an injuries surveillance system and increased levels of testing are already in place. These are both included in the culture and behavior section, which also calls on the national federations to provide leadership and drive culture change in anti-doping and horse welfare.

The structure and governance section has the highest number of proposed actions: 12 in the immediate action category and a further three in the longer-term category. Key amongst these are the proposal to enforce out of competition testing; a review of disciplinary procedures for athletes, trainers, and officials and severe penalties for transgressors; a register and ranking list for trainers; the requirement for a medication and treatment logbook for all horses; and a proposal for trainers to become "persons responsible" with their riders.

Feedback from the national federations will be incorporated into a final set of proposals which will be further debated at the endurance conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, Feb. 9, 2014. At that session, it is proposed that the national federations set key performance indicators as part of the discussion.

A special endurance session will be included in the FEI Sports Forum (April 28-29, 2014) at which the national federations will be asked to support the strategy in its final form before it is approved by the FEI Bureau in May 2014.

“It is our hope that all national federations will accept our final proposals, take ownership of the plan, and, together with the FEI, provide the leadership we believe is necessary for it to succeed,” Finding wrote in the final pages of the document. “It will not be easy for all to accept, there will be costs to bear for us all, but we believe our proposals must be implemented to secure the long term sustainability of the sport. Success in implementing these proposals depends on the willingness of everyone involved in the sport to be self-disciplined and to take personal responsibility.”

He reiterated one of his messages from the endurance session at the FEI General Assembly: “Apply these values of clean sport, welfare, integrity, and partnership and we live and work together. If you do not subscribe to them, our message is, simply, leave us.”

“We believe there is a bright future for the sport," he said. "Together we must grasp it and move on with a determination that we should never again have to face these challenges.”

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