After the U.S. Equestrian Federation dropped the American Driving Society as its recognized affiliate for driving on Jan. 20, the two parties got to work trying to hammer out an agreement. On May 12, the USEF officially reinstated the ADS.
The USEF’s two main concerns were drug testing and licensing of driving officials. Under the new memorandum of understanding, the ADS will not be required to drug test at its own competitions, but if they decide to do so, it will be under agreed terms with USEF.
At USEF-licensed and joint USEF/ADS shows, all competitors will now be subject to drug testing, but those entered in only ADS classes at those competitions will not be assessed a drug fee.
ADS officials agreed to work with USEF to educate members on clean sport and will provide educational materials on the USEF’s drug testing program and operate their ADS-only licensed competitions under an equine and human welfare and safety code of conduct.
Other notable changes include that combined driving events offering preliminary and intermediate may choose whether they want their events to be licensed by ADS, USEF or both. Advanced-level divisions must be USEF-licensed, which is not a change from previous rules.
The ADS will continue to license its own officials, but USEF may issue a USEF-only license without the requirement of an ADS license. The ADS will also continue to train officials but will now coordinate more closely with the USEF Licensed Officials Committee. The USEF will license the advanced-level national championships, while the ADS will own championships at the intermediate and preliminary levels.
The memorandum of understanding also states: “The parties agree to avoid public criticism of each other at all costs, in the best interests of equestrian sport.” This provision also extends to the organizations’ board of directors, committees and staff.
“We think it’s a great agreement,” said Mike Arnold, president of ADS. “I think it’s good for the sport. We’re much better as a whole than we would be separate. We are, and they are, interested in helping the sport grow in lots of ways. I think together we can accomplish those things.”
Bill Moroney, CEO of USEF, applauded the work of the members, staff and leadership of both organizations.
“In addition to the responsibilities enumerated in the USEF bylaws, the agreement covers licensing and educating officials, drug testing, reciprocation of penalties, non-discrimination, communications, sport growth and equine/human athlete development, rules, competitions and developmental opportunities,” he said. “Additional work still needs to be done between the two organizations to fully develop the specific tasks in each area and the action plans necessary for their successful implementation.
“The affiliate agreement creates the pathway forward to grow the driving discipline and to support the initiatives that will achieve our collective goals of ensuring fairness, safety, welfare, competition, education and athlete development while bringing the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible,” he added.