You know that old cliché, “kicking someone when they’re down”? Or how about “adding insult to injury”? Or “flogging a dead horse”? Well, just roll them all together and you have something that approximates what came down the FEI communications chute this week and landed with a stinky thud in my inbox. I thought the FEI was done with Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, especially since she publicly declared her permanent resignation from competitive dressage after the coal-raking she suffered at the FEI’s hands last summer. But no. Like Samuel Jackson at the beginning of that black pearl of films, Pulp Fiction, the FEI has gone Old Testament on her ass. Here is a link to the charmless communiqué, if you haven’t already seen it.
I had never heard of the so-called ‘independent entity’, the Equestrian Community Ingegrity Unit, nor had I heard of the company that runs it, Quest. It took me a few minutes of wading through the multitude of companies with this popular monosyllabic name before my web quest for Quest was satisfied. Now, if you didn’t do any googling of the name ECIU or Quest, you might just think it was a disinterested third party which came to the conclusion that the sun shone straight out of the FEI’s butt through all the Latin American Olympic qualification shenanigans of last year. But if you are a little teensy bit like me, you might have done even the most cursory of searches and learned the following:
1. ECIU is so independent from the FEI that its home page in the internet universe is not even on the FEI’s website, oh no. It’s on another website, which has a remarkably similar name: feicleansport.org. Gosh, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that feicleansport.org is the spawn of the FEI. Which of course it is.
2. Quest is in the employ of the FEI in running the ECIU. And before I get any ‘correction’ emails from the FEI M&C dept, let me say that I do not know the exact terms or relationship, but it’s clear as day that Quest is the company contracted to manage the ECIU for the FEI. That’s hardly an arm’s length relationship – there’s barely a hang nail between the two.
3. The Chairman of Quest is none other than former boss cop Lord Stevens, the very same Lord who was appointed by the FEI to be Chair of the Joint-Commission that of course recommended the creation of the ECIU. Cozy, isn’t it?
For her part, Yvonne has issued one last statement, though she did so ONLY because the FEI decided to issue its press release instead of just letting this final salt in the wound dissolve quietly. When I received Yvonne’s statement the other day, I had one question for the Muñiz’s: why on earth did they file a complaint with the ECIU, which is so obviously in service to the FEI? To me it seemed like about as good an idea as trying to win a law suit against someone by hiring his lawyer to represent you. It turns out it wasn’t Yvonne’s idea at all, but a recommendation from another organization (which shall remain nameless because I did not get permission to divulge their identity) as a final effort to see at least a smidgen of justice. Not only did she not get that, the ECIU declared the FEI completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever, which is definitely not what CAS concluded – as reported on my blog post of last fall.
Here is Yvonne’s last word on what has surely been one of the most humiliating and degrading experiences of her life:
“I have been informed by the Equestrian Community Integrity Unit that they have dismissed the complaint that was filed by me with regards to the treatment I have been subjected to by the FEI during my Olympic classification appeal. The ECIU indicates that there is no evidence to support my claims.
“I fail to understand the ECIU´s conclusion, taking into account the testimony given to the ECIU by witnesses that were present at all hearings, such as our national federation president. While I accept the report as is, I do not accept its findings and stand firmly by my allegations. Perhaps I was not physically or verbally abused per se, but I was certainly threatened, disrespected and diminished as a rider by certain elements of the FEI. Among other things, I was told in no uncertain terms that if my appeal succeeded the FEI would consider protesting my own results-that is a matter of record.
“Following the receipt of the communication of the ECIU, which was labeled “Strictly Private and Confidential”, to my surprise I was contacted yesterday by the FEI Press Department, looking for me to participate in a joint press release concerning the findings. In this message there was a suggested statement for me, indicating that I accept the conclusions and look forward to leaving this issue behind me. While I appreciate the FEI´s efforts, I do not accept the findings of the report. I have indeed placed the issue behind me, as I have retired from international competition a long time ago.
“My decision to retire has been reinforced by the latest changes in Olympic qualification being pushed forward by the FEI. As of now, there is even less opportunities for dressage riders from small nations to achieve their Olympic goals. Unless a country has the depth to field an entire Grand Prix team, it is basically out of the running for an Olympic spot. It is extremely unfortunate for the region, as this goes directly against the attempts to bring up the levels in the region. Why would a rider from our countries even make the effort to secure a Gran Prix mount and compete at that level, when all the extra spots have gone to nations that can field teams? It is also very disappointing to see that North and South American members of the FEI have failed to defend the interests of our regions´ riders once again.”
Yvonne’s last point, which was to have been the topic of today’s post before this latest unwanted chapter came along, is absolutely valid. I haven’t gotten my fingers rapped by the FEI’s ruler for a while, but after I post my opinions of the proposed new Olympic qualification formula in a few days, I expect I will become reacquainted with that special sting – that is if I haven’t already invoked Old Testament wrath with today’s thoughts.