Today’s post begins with a bit of free advice to my favourite dysfunctional organization, Dressage Queen Canada: it’s not always the case that something is ‘better late than never’. Today I received a cheerful press release entitled: “2012 Dressage Canada calendar is now available”. Well, raise the flag. It’s only two months – or one sixth or 15% – of the way into 2012 and they’ve already got a calendar out. When will wonders cease?
Before I wrote this nasty bit of sarcasm I trolled through old DC press releases from the last few months to make sure I hadn’t missed any announcement of said calendar before today. Not only is this the first news of the calendar, it’s already being discounted by 50% from 15 bucks to $7.50. Here’s another bit of advice for the folks in charge of such cutting edge marketing strategies: next time, why don’t you take photos of the year’s stars – such as the Pan Am and NAJYRC medalists of 2011 – and make a free poster? You can send it out to every dressage training barn in the country, most of which will happily tack it up on a lounge wall or bathroom door as a piece of perennial recognition and promotion that will remain in place for years. And you will probably lose less money doing that than by producing a calendar that hits the ground limping two months into the year. I can tell you one thing: I sure would hate to be Miss January or Mister February.
And speaking of the calendar, some of you might not be aware of the fact that tomorrow is a very important day if you are a Central or South American dressage rider seeking the one individual Olympic berth for London 2012. March 1, 2012 is the cut off date for qualifying scores to be accrued by hopeful contenders for that one coveted spot. As reported on Dressage-News.com (recently but I don’t know precisely when because Ken for some mysterious but surely space age reason doesn’t date his news stories), the Dominican Republic federation has filed a complaint to the FEI that Brazil has been running illegal CDIs to get one of its riders qualified for London.
Before I go even one centimeter farther down this controversial centre line, I want to point out that in no way should riders from any federation feel the consequences of any of this – from one nation’s apparent corruption to another’s protest. The riders are all doing exactly the same thing: expending vast amounts of energy and considerable amounts of money to try and be the best qualified individuals to represent their countries at the ultimate sporting event, the Olympic Games. Yvonne and Luiza are both hard-working, skilled athletes. They are not the subject of this commentary. Brazil’s federation and the FEI are the subject of this commentary.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that Brazil has held three CDIs in January and February, all three of which are being counted as Olympic qualifiers. In all three CDIs, the same three Brazilian judges are on the five-member ground jury. As byzantine as the FEI rules are in some respects, this much is crystal clear: for CDIs, for Olympic qualifications – juries must be composed of no fewer than three foreign judges. THREE FOREIGN JUDGES. In each of the three qualifiers, there were only two. There is reportedly a loop hole that permits the FEI to grant a special dispensation (for lack of a more precise term) for a federation to not fulfill this requirement. One rumour is that such an exception was made for Brazil because they couldn’t afford to bring in a third foreign judge. I say poppycock. I just went on Orbitz and tried to book a return flight Frankfurt-Sao Paulo for a week from now. I had several choices, all for around a thousand bucks. Please. Let’s not forget that it isn’t the middle classes participating in FEI level dressage in Brazil. There is also no evidence from the documentation that Brazil even asked to have a special dispensation for their three favourite Brazilian judges (including Sr. Nigri, who is also the head of Brazil’s dressage federation – can you say ‘ conflito de interesses’?) and only two from elsewhere. Every show record from the FEI displays Trond Asmyr’s perky signature at the bottom of a perfectly normal application which lists three Brazilians and two foreigners as the judges.
I don’t honestly know whether Luiza or Yvonne is the deserving recipient of the Olympic ticket. But I do know this: one athlete has been doing her level best, hoofing it all the way to Burbank from Florida last weekend in order to gain qualifying scores by competing against American and Canadian riders who are making their own Olympic bids, while the other has attended shows in Brazil that fail to meet the FEI’s jury requirements. Whatcha gonna do now, Trond?
The FEI has given me enough fodder to keep me going for months this week. Good thing I have another blog to spread all this stuff around! Please visit my new blog on the website of Horse Sport International to read my post regarding the FEI’s announcement of today that they are booting the IDRC out of their treasured ‘Family’.
Sopranos FEI Edition coming right up!