Update developments in resignation case Dressage Committee
By Claartje van Andel dressagedirect
Last week the FEI asked for the resignation of the Dressage Committee. The letter that was written by HRH Princess Haya, chairman of the FEI, also on behalf of her executive board members Sven Holmberg, Chris Hodson, Kate Jackson and Pablo Mayorga requesting the resignation has been followed by agreement or concern from different dressage parties. The request for the committee’s resignation was based according to the FEI on ‘a series of issues indicating the current committee’s lack of flexibility on certain key matters’. The executive board stated that the committee has been seen to work in isolation, not fully representing the interests of the dressage community as a whole.
HRH Princess Haya
The first to react on the resignation request was the International Riders Club. Their chairman Margit Otto Crepin
wrote last Monday to her members that the IDRC welcomes the proposed change by the FEI in the composition of the Dressage Committee to reflect all the stakeholders in the sport: riders; trainers; judges; chef d’équipes; organisers; as well as the breadth of experience offered by wider regional involvement. This weekend the International Dressage Trainers Club IDTC agreed with the IDRC. In a press statement they write that the IDTC has long held the belief that the current composition of the FEI Dressage Committee does not reflect the interest of all stakeholders. Therefore they hope that the current situation is seen as an opportunity to restructure the administration of dressage affairs within the FEI to be fully representative of the interests of all stakeholders, riders, trainers, judges, chef d’equipes, organisers and developing countries.
Margit Otto Crepin
In the meantime the Belgian Equestrian Federation as well the German Equestrian Federation have brought forward the fact that no democratic ways have been chosen for this call for resignation. In their letter to the FEI the Belgian Federation writes: “We observe that the FEI President and Executive Board have apparently a problem with the FEI Dressage Committee. […] In our view, the FEI has to be a democratic organisation that respects universal recognized legal principles like the right of defence. In a democratic organisation different opinions have to be possible and make part of a normal decision making process. In our view the Members of the FEI Dressage Committee are condemned before a trial even took place. This tends to arbitrariness which is in our view unacceptable for an International Federation of which we are member.
Consequently we expect clarifications on what legal bases all these actions are undertaken and more specific:
Did the Members of the FEI Dressage Committee have the possibility to defend themselves? If yes, how?
Did the FEI Bureau give a specific mandate for this matter to the FEI Executive Board as indicated in Art. 4.5.1 of the FEI Internal Regulations?
Should such a drastic request not be the exclusive competence of the FEI Bureau or even the FEI General Assembly?”
Chair of the Dressage Committee Mariette Withages-Dieltjens, at the moment judging at the CDI in Del Mar, reacted on behalf of the Dressage Committee that the dressage committee has no intention to resign. She answered the FEI in a letter denying all arguments of a lack of flexibility mentioned in the FEI letter.
FEI director of sport David Holmes admitted that the board doesn´t have the power to demand the resignation of the committee. The only body that can de-select the Dressage Committee indeed is the one that selected them, the General Assembly. `We´re hoping they will see the light and resign`, the former director of British Dressage David Holmes said to the magazine Horse and Hound.
`Now is the time for the dressage community to unite and focus on the long term interest of our sport`, the IDTC concludes in their statement.
However democracy has to be a part of this desired long term interest. No fully representative Dressage Committee can be installed without a democratic process. Furthermore it might not be wise to dismiss an entire board. The future is based on old and new, just like dressage sport is based both on history and new developments. A clean slate tends to want to recreate the wheel and frankly the wheel is bent but not broken.
Mariette Withages-Dieltjens Pictures Claartje van Andel dressagedirect