Well, it’s only the half way break of the first day of the 2012 GDF, and I can happily say my work is done. No, not really, but the hard part is behind me. I was quite concerned about asking a ‘negative’ question right in the very first half hour of the proceedings today. You see, the media are routinely fingered at the GDF for being a naysaying, scandal-seeking bunch of bottom feeders who often distract from the real issues with our nasty lines of questioning. But a quick meeting with Kyra and Wayne at the end of their IDRC AGM(I even got to sit in on the last bit) confirmed that I should just go ahead and ask Trond the unanswerable question. Okay, let’s face it. Any question you ask Trond is an unanswerable question. My question today was about the CAS decision and Yvonne Losos de Muñiz’s statement about quitting the sport (think bullied child at school who finally gives up and decides he can find better things to do with his time than get pushed, punched and kicked). If you want some background reading, you will find both Yvonne’s statement and CAS’ 29 page decision on Dominican Republic vs. Brazil/FEI on my other blog, Straight-Up.  When I say Trond doesn’t answer my questions, that is not the same as saying he doesn’t respond.  After I finished blabbing into the mike, he delivered about two minutes of words; but I haven’t even bothered transcribing the voice recording because there was absolutely nothing of substance in his response. That man must have got an A in question dodging at school.

His mouth is moving, and his vocal cords are making sounds, but he’s not really saying anything

Actually, Trond did say one thing that resonated like a fart in a trash can. After I asked him my double barreled question – what he would do differently if he could go back in time (his only answer: you can’t go back in time – he must have got an F in philosophy), and what the FEI would do to make sure athletes weren’t subjected to the same appalling treatment in the future (I can’t recall anything but vague references to ‘reviewing’ things) – Richard Davison, who today was on fire as MC, dashed up through the crowd to ask Wayne if he had anything to add on behalf of the IDRC. Wayne said that the IDRC was looking forward to seeing a more ‘robust’ statement from the FEI than the dismissive ‘we did nothing wrong’ one issued last week from Sec Gen Ingmar de Vos. Trond’s response to Wayne was that the FEI would not be making any further statements on the subject.

To understand how much that comment stinks, we need to take a quick peek at the FEI statement, which was forwarded to me today by the FEI media dept who requested that I share it with my readers after having seen my blogs about Yvonne’s statement and the CAS decision. Before I copy and paste what is contained in the statement, I want to point out why I didn’t put it up there when I was posting the other reading material on the subject the other day. The reason I didn’t post it was because I hadn’t seen it. In the FEI media department’s own words of today, the FEI statement was a ‘reactive statement’ sent out by email only to writers and publications which had published something about the Dominican protest. It was not issued as a press release, nor is it to be found anywhere on the FEI’s site. I wonder why that would be. I really have no idea, unless it’s because they know the statement is going to provoke a lot of people, and not in a way that will send them out buying I♥FEI t-shirts. But without further delay, here is Ingmar de Vos’ statement on the CAS decision in its entirety:

“The FEI has the responsibility to enforce and, in this case, to defend the implementation of its rules. This is particularly important given the fact that under these rules athletes are competing for Olympic qualification and it is the duty of the FEI to ensure athletes have equal opportunities to qualify for the entire duration of the qualification period. I have full confidence that the FEI team and Ms Lisa Lazarus in particular has defended this case, as always, in a professional manner with the utmost respect for the rights of all parties involved. It is regrettable to see that Yvonne Losos de Muñiz has now made the decision to leave the sport.”

Now, there are probably very few of you who want to wade through 29 pages of largely clerical text in the CAS decision, so let me share with you the million dollar paragraph, the one which you might be safe to assume is what prompted a statement from de Vos that utterly denies any wrongdoing on the part of the FEI’s Legal and Dressage departments:

“The FEI Dressage Committee then delegated the day-to-day administration and application of the Exception Memo to the FEI Dressage Department. Throughout 2010, feedback about the exception was positive and so the FEI Dressage Department simply continued to apply it, though there is no evidence that the FEI Dressage Committee ever decided to extend or renew it. More importantly, there is no evidence that the FEI Dressage Committee ever subsequently considered, much less decided, to create an exception to the three-foreign-judge rule under the Dressage Olympic Ranking List once that list came into existence. Rather, the FEI Dressage Department just kept on applying the Exception Memo – including for the competitions at issue here – as it had done prior to the Olympic qualification period. Rather, it appears that no one on the FEI Dressage Committee (or in the FEI Dressage Department, for that matter) ever considered the issue. The Panel considers the FEI’s oversight in this regard more than a little unfortunate, as it lies at the heart of this dispute – a dispute that has caused unnecessary upset and uncertainty for Mrs. Losos de Muñiz and Ms. Tavares de Almeida, as well as their national federations.”

It makes one wonder if Ingmar thought his statement was in defense of the FEI regarding a completely different matter, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the toughest thing I had to muster my courage for here at the GDF was to ask my question. I never for a moment thought Trond would actually answer it. My goal was to get the topic out there in front of the 350 or so people here, and in that aspiration I am happy to say I succeeded.

So far the presentations have lived up to my expectations that this would be a GDF not to miss. Here are a few one liner impressions and snaps of what I have learned today:

1. Adelinde is one fit woman. Here she is juggling three balls while standing on someone’s back and that someone is deliberately shifting around under Adelinde’s feet:

2. Fearful and green riders might want to add riding the Dressage Simulator to their bucket lists:

Like Wii for the dressage obsessed

3. Horses can’t flex their sacro iliac joint, only rotate it:

While I’ve been typing away here, I’ve watched out of the corner of my eye Patrik Kittel and Lyndal Oatley schooling their horses (Patrik’s on tomorrow) and watched Ingrid Klimke succeed in not being launched by one of the young horses she’ll be using in her presentation tonight. Ingrid is ALWAYS a highlight so I’m really looking forward to it, which is a good thing because they put her right at the end of the evening, starting near by bed time at 8:40 pm.