The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced Jan. 4 that it’s dismissed the appeal filed by Horse Sport Ireland and Irish show jumper Cian O’Connor and upheld an earlier decision by the Fédération Equestre Internationale.
The protest was lodged following an incident during the team final at the FEI European Jumping Championships in Aachen, Germany, in August, which counted as final qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The incident involved a member of the jump crew potentially getting in the way during O’Connor’s round. His horse, Good Luck, then pulled the rail immediately following the incident, causing Ireland to place seventh overall and lose their automatic spot for a team at the 2016 Olympics. (See video of the incident.)
The FEI Appeal Committee’s decision Aug. 22 confirmed an earlier decision taken by the ground jury at the Aachen championships, in which the ground jury dismissed the protest lodged by the Irish team. A ruling was given that the results obtained on the course that day would stand.
The CAS arbitration was conducted by a panel of CAS arbitrators: Jeffrey G. Benz of the United States (President), Philippe Sands QC of Great Britain and Nicholas Stewart QC of Great Britain, who held a hearing at the CAS headquarters in Switzerland on Dec. 16.
The CAS Panel has issued only its decision today, without the grounds, which will follow in the coming weeks.
“I have no regrets,” he wrote. “I tried everything possible and left no stone unturned in trying to seek fairness for what I feel was an unsporting decision made by the ground jury in Aachen. It’s time to move on and refocus on the sport rather than getting caught up further in bureaucracy and even more angry with officialdom. Team Ireland are first reserve because of the good performance at [Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games] in 2014 [France], so there is always a chance that we will get there yet—so best to keep aiming for it I guess!”
“I am happy that the CAS has confirmed the decision of the FEI Appeal Committee,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said in an FEI release today. “This was a field of play issue that was covered by FEI rules, so the CAS ruling upholding the decision made at the time is an important one for the FEI.”