The Presidential Board of the German Equestrian Federation held a special meeting today, May 28, with the German Olympic Committee for Equestrian Sports (Deutsches Olympiade-Komitee für Reiterei) and decided to disband the national equestrian teams for all three Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and show jumping.
This drastic decision follows yet another scandalous German doping incident.
An independent commission of the German Olympic Sports Federation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund) will examine the riders and German Federation officials. This commission will analyze the situation in top performance sport and give recommendations to the German Federation on how to deal with the current medication and doping problems. The recommendations of the DOSB commission will also include suggestions about possible sanctions against officials and riders.
“With the dissolving of the teams, we want to take an important step towards credibility,” said German Federation President Breido Count zu Rantzau. “Before a rider can be admitted to a team, he must face the examinations of the special commission and must express his or her attitude and behavior as a top rider.”
No rider will be considered for team membership unless he or she has gone before the members of the DOSB. This work will start in June.
“Thoroughness goes before speed, therefore we expect that the commission will take much longer until a final report will be available,” continued Count zu Rantzau.
Media statements made by Olympic show jumper Ludger Beerbaum were also a topic of discussion at the emergency meeting.
He told the Frankfurter Allgemein Sonntagszeitung, “Over the years, I have arranged myself in a way to exhaust what is possible. In the past, I had the attitude: What cannot be found is allowed.”
Based on this statement and a similar statement made during an interview with German Public Television (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) in Hamburg, Beerbaum will not be considered for any German Nations Cup teams for the time being. This will be effective until the DOSB commission has made its decision about him.
The situation with doping in Germany began escalating in the beginning of May, when the German newspaper Der Spiegel broke a story about Marco Kutscher’s horse Cornet Obolensky receiving an unauthorized shot of lactanase and arnica after the first round of the Nations Cup at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Kutscher confessed in a TV interview that his horse had received these medications and collapsed afterwards. The team veterinarian, Björn Nolting, said that he and Kutscher would have spoken with the FEI veterinarian about the medication, but the groom gave the shot before they had a chance. Nolting is no longer working for the German show jumping team.
FEI officials decided to look into Kutscher’s conduct after these facts came to light, and announced today that a protest had been filed with the FEI Tribunal. The protest requests the provisional suspension of Kutscher and Nolting from any FEI activities, pending the results of the investigation being carried out by the Ethics Panel. It also requests the provisional suspension of Hanfried Haring, FEI Bureau Member, judge and former Secretary General of the German National Federation, from his responsibilities on the FEI governing body, on the basis that he had knowledge of the relevant facts and did not report them to the relevant authorities.
The German Federation decided to wait and see what would come out of these investigations. Officials had been conducting their own investigations into other accusations against Christian Ahlmann, Kutscher and Beerbaum at the Olympic Games, but couldn’t verify them since the statements were so divergent.
Dressage star Isabell Werth also made waves when she said in a podium discussion on First Public German TV that she and the horse’s owner were the only people who should be concerned about the her horse’s medications. Of course, German team members have always had to sign a contract stating they would abide by the regulations of the federation and the rules of fair sport.
In Germany, all the major international shows have been broadcasted on TV, and often the television station even sponsors the events. But ever since the drugging upsets at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, that TV support has grown more critical and even threatened to withdraw any financial support.