Following lengthy appeal proceedings, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed and upheld the FEI Tribunal’s decision in the case against Andrew Kocher delivered in June 2021, which saw the US Athlete suspended for 10 years for the use of electric spurs on several horses throughout a prolonged period of time.
Other sanctions in the FEI Tribunal decision rendered two years ago, also included the disqualification of results from eight FEI events between June 2018 and November 2019 where evidence supported the athlete’s use of electric spurs on horses, alongside a CHF 10,000 fine and legal costs to the amount of CHF 7,500. Kocher appealed the said FEI Tribunal decision on July 1, 2021, seeking to eliminate or otherwise reduce the sanctions imposed.
The FEI Tribunal decision was the result of a lengthy investigation by the FEI, starting in June 2020 following allegations of electric spur use reported to the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU). It was alleged that Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of FEI registered and national horses in international and national events, and during training.
Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the FEI formally opened disciplinary proceedings against Kocher in October 2020. During the proceeding before the FEI Tribunal, it was also discovered that Kocher instructed his employees to use the electric spurs on specific horses. For that purpose, Kocher provided to his employees several electric spurs devices which he manufactured himself.
In its decision, the CAS Panel reached the same conclusion as the FEI Tribunal, to the effect that a ten-year suspension was merited, during which Kocher is barred from participating in or attending, in any capacity, including as a spectator, any competition or event that is authorised or organised by the FEI or any National Federation. The provisional suspension served by Kocher since 28 October 2020 shall be credited against this period of suspension, which will therefore come to an end on October 27, 2030. The CHF 10,000 fine was also upheld and Kocher is furthermore ordered to pay costs of CHF 7,500.
“We are extremely satisfied with this outcome and that the sanctions the FEI Tribunal imposed, to reflect the severity of the offenses committed by Mr Kocher, have been upheld by CAS”, said FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch.
“It may have taken two years to complete this process, but it confirms that we had the right decision to start with, and that there is no room for leniency when it comes to cases of horse abuse.
“We have rules and regulations in place to protect the integrity of our competitions and the wellbeing of our horses, and when these rules are breached and their welfare is jeopardised, we will continue to seek to impose maximum sentences.”
The full CAS decision is available here.
The FEI Tribunal Decision is available here.