Countries represented in the abandoned endurance ride at the World Equestrian Games are to be reimbursed 1000 CHF ($1006) per rider by the FEI.
The token sum – equivalent to the entry fee – is described as a “subsidy” in a FEI letter to all national federations. It is accompanied by a reminder that the FEI was not to blame for the false start and other disastrous events at Tryon on ride day, September 12, and that the decision to cancel was force majeure.
The FEI board decision follows unsuccessful compensation requests from an undisclosed number of national federations. News of the “subsidy” has intensified anger on social media from riders who had been hoping for more detail from the Equine Community Integrity Unit (ECIU) investigation into that disastrous day. Only a summary of the ECIU findings were presented in the open session at the FEI General Assembly last month here.
The letter to NFs has been widely leaked on social media, with riders describing the financial award as a joke and a further insult; many would prefer assurances that those responsible will be named and sanctioned (a second ECIU investigation in misconduct allegations is ongoing.)
In a letter dated December 21, FEI secretary-general Sabrina Ibanez explained the FEI board (as the former FEI bureau is now known) considered financial requests during its teleconference on December 19. “The board reconfirmed that the decision to cancel the endurance competition on force majeure grounds had been the right one, therefore any eventual subsidy to the participants would in no way compensate this fact. The decision to cancel the endurance event was taken to protect the welfare of the horses, many of whom were failing to recover due to the extreme heat and humidity. Even though this decision has generated much negativity and disagreement, the FEI maintains it was a necessity and is proud that our officials stood up for horse welfare.
“In its consideration, the board also took into account the unprecedented amount of resources necessary from the FEI to deliver the championships, and the FEI direct expenses of approximately CHF 1 million which were required in order to complete the track according to USDA approval standards.
“However, in view of the exceptional shortcomings experienced during the endurance competition, the board has decided to allocate to each NF a subsidy amounting to CHF 1000 for each athlete who started the endurance championships.”
Earlier this month, an appeal by Spain to be awarded team gold in hindsight also failed.