The FEI Bureau has initiated suspension proceedings against the International Dressage Riders Club (IDRC) as an FEI Associate Member due to the Club’s apparent lack of respect for the fundamental principles of good governance, in particular, the Club’s removal of two of its members without an opportunity to be heard and its ongoing refusal to reinstate them. The Club filed an appeal with the FEI Tribunal last year, claiming that the FEI Statutes guaranteed that its proposed candidate should be appointed and that no other person or entity was authorised to propose candidates for the athlete representative on the Dressage Committee. The FEI Tribunal issued a decision on 7 November 2011 denying the IDRC’s appeal.
The IDRC passed new Statutes at its 30 October 2011 General Assembly allowing the IDRC General Assembly to remove IDRC members without an opportunity to be heard. These new Statutes had not been provided to members in advance of the General Assembly, nor had they been finalised at the time of the General Assembly.
The new Statutes were passed, and two members - Luis Lucio (ESP) and Maria Ines (COL), who had been nominated by their National Federations for the athlete representative post on the Dressage Committee - were immediately removed from IDRC membership. The IDRC stated that its Secretary General Wayne Channon had been democratically elected by the IDRC membership to represent the Club on the FEI Dressage Committee and the fact that other candidates were standing against the Club’s chosen candidate was undemocratic and had to be stopped.
One of the criteria for appointment of the athlete representative to an FEI Technical Committee is that the candidate must be a member of the relevant FEI-recognised international Association. By removing the only two candidates standing against the IDRC chosen candidate, the Club stripped the other two candidates of their eligibility.
The two expelled members both requested an opportunity to be heard by the IDRC but were rejected. The FEI opposed the actions of the IDRC and invited it several times to reinstate the two members, which the IDRC declined to do each time.
At the 2011 FEI General Assembly, given the legal issues that still needed to be resolved, the FEI Bureau postponed the appointment of the athlete representative on the Dressage Committee. As a result of the IDRC’s actions, a majority of the FEI members (the National Federations of Regional Groups I, II, IV, V and VI) formally requested that the FEI undertake proceedings to remove the IDRC as an Associate Member of the FEI for violation of the core principles of the FEI and good governance.
The Bureau has now initiated suspension proceedings against the IDRC as an FEI Associate Member, and the IDRC has been invited to attend the FEI Bureau meeting in June to present its position. Following this process, the FEI Bureau will decide whether or not to suspend the IDRC’s Associate Membership for an indefinite period.
“This is an unfortunate situation”, FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos commented. “We have offered the IDRC several opportunities to repair this, but ultimately the FEI has been left with no choice but to initiate suspension proceedings against the IDRC. The FEI will ensure a fully transparent and democratic process and the IDRC will be given the opportunity to present its case in person to the Bureau. We strongly encourage the Club to follow the principles of good governance and address these issues so that this matter can be resolved.”