You know how roller coasters start with that agonizingly slow climb, followed by immense, gut-dropping acceleration? One might be tempted to see a parallel with what’s going on in the world of the FEI Prez and her husband, Sheikh Mohammed.
Here is a two-day old story from The Guardian regarding an illegal drug seizure of staggering proportions at London’s Stansted airport. It came from a ‘mistakenly’ labeled box (it said ‘horse tack’) on a Dubai government plane. The seizure took place in May, but managed to stay hidden from the public until September. It’s hard to decide which revelation is the most shocking: that the Sheikh claims he knew nothing about the raid until the newspaper story broke a full four months later; that the Sheikh instructed HRH to conduct an internal investigation into the escalating doping scandals that keep sticking to him like hair on velcro; that HRH ACCEPTED the task. Please tell me I’m not the only one to think this is outrageously inappropriate. Firstly, having your own wife conduct the investigation is equivalent to investigating yourself. Secondly, and of much more concern I should think to the FEI and all its member federations, the last thing the FEI Prez should be doing while holding down that post is to get personally involved in this investigation. She has apparently met with Lord Stevens (who was head of the FEI Clean Sport campaign) today to solicit his advice. I sure hope he dropped into her bended ear this pearl of wisdom: that investigating her husband’s involvement with illegal horse drugs would be like Lord Stevens ordering his own police force to investigate an accusation that he had broken the law while serving as Metropolitan Police Chief.
I had a phone conversation with FEI Regional Group II Chair Hanfried Haring this past Friday. Mr. Haring is also the Chair of the European Equestrian Federation. When the news first reached me that there is a proposal to change the FEI statutes to allow HRH to remain for a third term, it came not from the FEI, but from another journalist. There was never a public disclosure that this proposal would be voted on at the FEI GA next month, though a document did circulate from Mission Control to its member federations, and I have been assured by the FEI that the document was not confidential (even though it was something of a closely guarded secret until a few weeks ago when we muck rakers got wind of it). When I went to the FEI and received the statement I posted on this blog on Sunday (scroll down past the Nations Cup stuff), I was instructed to direct any further questions to Mr. Haring. Here is a bit of my subsequent conversation with him, a juicy morsel which is suddenly far more relevant than when I posed the question on Friday:
Why do you support the idea of Princess Haya taking a third term, but also within the circumstances of Endurance (there are national federations who believe she is in a conflict of interest because of her husband) why do you think that she would be the right person – to go for a third term instead of someone new for a first term?
“Well, first, you know that she is not going for a third term?”
Yes I know that, I saw the press release.
” Okay. Well, l I try to find the English word. We did not see the conflict of interest because in all cases when there was something with Endurance, she gave it to the first Vice President and pulled out completely to be not in a conflict of interest. And so that’s it. We discussed it and we all said no there is for us there is no conflict. ”
I should probably go back to Mr. Haring and ask him if he still feels this way, given the fact that HRH is now in charge of an investigation of her own husband. Not only that, as part of her efforts on the hubby’s behalf, she is consulting with Lord Stevens, the man who headed the FEI Clean Sport initiative, and who is currently Chairman of the Board of Quest, the company that manages the FEI’s Equestrian Community Integrity Unit, which is part of the Clean Sport program.
Is your head spinning yet? If not, take a look at today’s two stories in The Telegraph. The article written by Pippa Cuckson details what sorts of drugs were seized from the Dubai plane. I have a pretty good working familiarity with the more common legal and illegal drugs for use in competition horses, but I hadn’t even heard of most of the items seized. Pippa kindly provides some detail on what sorts of drugs they are, and what they are used for. I Googled Pentosan Gold, chiefly because the name sounded sinister; it put me in mind of Carolina Gold. Here is what the first hit on Google says about it: “Concentrated anti-inflammatory and stimulant of cartilage synthesis, repair and protection for race horses, greyhounds, camels.”
The other article introduces to our already-twisted plot the name Jaume Punti Dachs, a Spanish endurance rider who manages the Sheikh’s Moorley Farm East in England, where the Royal endurance horses spend their summers. A sizable cache of illegal drugs was seized from that farm in early August. It bears mentioning that Punti Dachs is the Deputy Chair of the FEI Endurance Committee, and became the FEI European Endurance Champion last month in Most, Czech Republic. And just in case you aren’t yet saturated with this mess that is beginning to resemble the sick my cat just left for me on the bathroom floor, here is a recent Horse & Hound article that details both what was seized at Moorley, and what Punti Dachs said in his own defense.
How do ya like them rotten apples?
To be continued…