The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced in a press release that the suspensions leveled against hunter trainers Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer have been temporarily lifted pending further arbitration.
Glefke was suspended for two years and fined $24,000 and Farmer was suspended for 18 months and fined $18,000 following a positive test for GABA on a horse in their care. The initial suspensions and fines were handed down in January of 2017 and have been wrapped up in legal disputes between Glefke and Farmer and the USEF ever since.
With the suspensions lifted, Glefke and Farmer are reinstated as members in good standing with USEF and plan on immediately getting back in the show ring on Jan. 5 in Wellington, Florida.
“Obviously Kelley and I both feel very vindicated, but for anything else you have to talk to our lawyers,” Glefke said when reached for comment.
The USEF released a statement on the arbitrator’s ruling: “USEF will continue to vigorously defend this case and looks forward to presenting its full case and all evidence at the final hearing. In order to preserve the integrity of the legal process, USEF will not comment further.”
The USEF also noted in its statement that any money won by Glefke and Farmer during this temporary lift of the suspension will be held in an escrow account pending the final outcome of the arbitration, now scheduled for February.
The last news of the legal battle came in August of 2017 when the U.S. Olympic Committee ruled in favor of U.S. Equestrian on a motion to dismiss Glefke and Farmer’s complaint to the governing body.
The next step for Romm and Glefke and Farmer’s legal team was arbitration. USEF Bylaw 705, in accordance with the Ted Stevens Act, guarantees that the USEF will submit to arbitration in the case of a controversy over a member’s opportunity to participate in athletic competition.
Bonnie Navin, another lawyer for Glefke and Farmer, said arbitration between her clients and the USEF began shortly after the USOC ruling in August and has continued for the past six months in Miami.
Glefke and Farmer’s lawyer Bonnie Navin said arbitration between her clients and the USEF began shortly after that ruling in August and has continued for the past six months in Miami.
“USEF is the one who has asked the arbitrator to maintain the confidentiality of the entire proceeding. We have asked and fought vigorously for it to be open to the public,” Navin said. “That could be subject to change, but as of right now the arbitrator is respecting USEF’s request to keep everything confidential.”
In the arbitrator’s interim ruling, it states: “To grant a preliminary injunction or comparable interim measures, the law requires the moving parties to demonstrate: (1) the likelihood of ultimate success on the merits; (2) irreparable injury to them absent granting of the preliminary injunction; and (3) a balancing of equities. It is the finding and conclusion of this Arbitrator that the Claimants have now demonstrated a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits.”
“[In the press release] the USEF has craftily excluded the most important portion of the order, which is that based on the evidence presented, Larry and Kelley will more likely than not prevail in February,” Navin said. “That’s why they lifted the suspension, because based on what has been presented thus far it is more likely than not Larry and Kelley will prevail.”
The interim ruling also noted that in Farmer and Glefke’s August hearing, the lack of an explanation for the “off the charts” test results combined with the testimony of industry experts, “this Arbitrator determined that the Hearing Panel had not acted arbitrarily or capriciously in making its prior ruling. Subsequent discovery has now provided new information that was not considered by the Hearing Panel and was not previously considered by this Arbitrator that has tipped the scale in Claimant’s favor as to their likelihood of success on the merits.”
*This article was updated to include information about the USEF bylaws and the organization’s agreement under the Ted Stevens Act to submit to arbitration in the case of a controversy over a member’s opportunity to participate in athletic competition.
Read all the coverage of Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke’s suspensions in 2017, including each update, statements from them, responses from others and more.