Modern pentathletes have called on their long-standing president and his entire executive board to resign in the wake of the decision to drop riding after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Over 660 pentathletes including Canada’s Kelly Fitzsimmons have declared a vote of no confidence in the leaders of UIPM. President Klaus Schormann is expected to be elected for a record eighth four-year term at the UIPM congress later this month.

While the dropping of riding is welcomed by equestrians, who tend to believe pentathletes don’t take horse welfare and equitation seriously enough, its departure is causing distress and outrage to the pentathlon community.

Aside from philosophical discussion over the purpose of their 109-year-old test of the all-round sportsman, pentathletes are angry to be excluded from consultation . There was no inkling that such drastic measures were imminent. UIPM’s official announcement on Thursday followed two days of intense media speculation, adding fuel to the fire thanks to its clumsy handling.

After the Saint Boy whipping drama during the Tokyo Games, UIPM set up a working group to address horse welfare concerns, which now appears sidelined by last week’s secret meeting of the UIPM executive board.

Signatories of the vote of no confidence include current and past Olympic champions Joe Choong, Kate French and David Svoboda.

In an accompanying letter, the pentathletes say they understand that Modern Pentathlon is under immense pressure from the IOC. Their sport has already revised its format several times to remain in the Olympic Games, which includes combining shooting and running into the “laser-run,” and is due to stage a further condensed, 90-minute event in Paris. The IOC is understood to have told UIPM to come up with an alternative to riding if they wish to be a sport at Los Angeles 2028, following the negative publicity at Tokyo.

However, pentathletes want their leaders to stand up for the traditional sport and state: “Baron Pierre De Coubertin created Modern Pentathlon specifically for the Olympic Games to showcase the ultimate athlete.

“Without consulting its athletes and member federations, the Executive Board has undermined 109 years of Modern Pentathlon. The Board say they are responding to pressure from the International Olympic Committee. We are all aware of the challenges Modern Pentathlon faces. We must always look to the future and keep our sport moving forward.

“The actions of the current President and Executive Board show that we need a new Board capable of planning for the sport’s long-term interests, standing up for its athletes and protecting its place in the Olympic Games.

“Therefore, we call upon the UIPM EB and President to resign.”

In response to athlete concerns, UIPM is inviting them to participate in an “open dialogue” event to be arranged next week.