George Morris' SafeSport Arbitration Held In New York 

Nov 18, 2019 - 1:45 PM

On Nov. 7 and 8, an independent arbitration was held in New York regarding former U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe and Olympian George Morris’ lifetime ban from the U.S. Equestrian Federation for alleged sexual misconduct with a minor. The ban was announced by the U.S. Center for SafeSport in August and has since been listed as “pending appeal” on the USEF and SafeSport websites.

It is not known when the results of the arbitration will be announced. Representatives for the U.S. Center for SafeSport did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Reached by phone on Nov. 18, Morris declined to comment on the proceedings.

The arbitration included testimony from two alleged victims, according to a source familiar with the proceedings who did not wish to be identified. Multiple witnesses also offered testimony, both on behalf of the victims and Morris, the source said.

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George Morris schools a student’s horse at the 2015 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. COTH Archives Photo

Morris, 81, issued a statement in August denying the allegations. “I am deeply troubled by the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s findings regarding unsubstantiated charges for events that allegedly occurred between 1968 and 1972,” Morris said. “I contest these findings wholeheartedly and am in the process of disputing them. I have devoted my life to equestrian sport and the development of future riders, coaches and Olympians. Any allegations that suggest I have acted in ways that are harmful to any individual, the broader equestrian community, and sport that I love dearly are false and hurtful.”

In August, Kira Wilson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Center for SafeSport, offered this description of the arbitration process in a written statement to the Chronicle: “At arbitration, each side makes an opening statement, presents witnesses and evidence, and makes closing statements. The Center has the burden to prove the misconduct more likely than not occurred (a preponderance of evidence), and that it imposed the appropriate sanction.”

Morris earned an Olympic team silver in show jumping at the 1960 Olympic Games (Italy) and established a top training business out of his Hunterdon Inc. (New Jersey). He was named U.S. show jumping chef d’equipe in 2005 and guided the U.S. team to a win in the 2005 Samsung Super League series, team silver at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (Germany), team gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, and team gold and individual gold and silver at the 2011 Pan American Games (Mexico).

His last championship with the U.S. team was the 2012 London Olympic Games, and afterward he assumed the role for the Brazilian team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Under the lifetime ban, which is reciprocated by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, Morris is not able to coach international teams for the United States, or any other countries. He is also banned from coaching or instructing USEF members.

 

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