Tag Archives: Court of Arbitration for Sport

CAS Upholds FEI Tribunal Decision Imposing 10-Year Suspension for Horse Abuse Case

Following lengthy appeal proceedings, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has confirmed and upheld the FEI Tribunal’s decision in the case against Andrew Kocher delivered in June 2021, which saw the US Athlete suspended for 10 years for the use of electric spurs on several horses throughout a prolonged period of time.

Other sanctions in the FEI Tribunal decision rendered two years ago also included the disqualification of results from eight FEI events between June 2018 and November 2019 where evidence supported the athlete’s use of electric spurs on horses, alongside a CHF 10,000 fine and legal costs to the amount of CHF 7,500. Kocher appealed the said FEI Tribunal decision on 1 July 2021, seeking to eliminate or otherwise reduce the sanctions imposed.

The FEI Tribunal decision was the result of a lengthy investigation by the FEI, starting in June 2020 following allegations of electric spur use reported to the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU). It was alleged that Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of FEI registered and national horses in international and national events, as well as during training.

Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the FEI formally opened disciplinary proceedings against Kocher in October 2020. During the proceeding before the FEI Tribunal, it was also discovered that Kocher instructed his employees to use the electric spurs on specific horses. For that purpose, Kocher provided to his employees several electric spurs devices which he manufactured himself.

In its decision, the CAS Panel reached the same conclusion as the FEI Tribunal, to the effect that a ten-year suspension was merited, during which Kocher is barred from participating in or attending, in any capacity, including as a spectator, any competition or event that is authorised or organised by the FEI or any National Federation. The provisional suspension served by Kocher since 28 October 2020 shall be credited against this period of suspension, which will therefore come to an end on 27 October 2030. The CHF 10,000 fine was also upheld, and Kocher is furthermore ordered to pay costs of CHF 7,500.

“We are extremely satisfied with this outcome and that the sanctions the FEI Tribunal imposed, to reflect the severity of the offenses committed by Mr Kocher, have been upheld by CAS,” said FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch.

“It may have taken two years to complete this process, but it confirms that we had the right decision to start with, and that there is no room for leniency when it comes to cases of horse abuse.

“We have rules and regulations in place to protect the integrity of our competitions and the wellbeing of our horses, and when these rules are breached and their welfare is jeopardised, we will continue to seek to impose maximum sentences.”

The full CAS decision is available here.

The FEI Tribunal Decision is available here.

Media contact:

Olivia Robinson
Director, FEI Communications

CAS Overturns FEI Removal of Villeneuve-Loubet Results on Appeal

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld an appeal against the FEI decision to annul a series of results from events at Villeneuve-Loubet (FRA) between December 2019 and January 2020.

The CAS ruling overturns the decisions of the FEI Secretary General in February 2019 and the FEI Tribunal in June 2020, meaning that all results obtained by the appellants Mathilda Karlsson (SRI) and Andrea Herck (ROM), and other participants in these competitions, are now reinstated.

As a result, the Longines Jumping Rankings are to be recalculated and there are also changes to the individual quotas for this year’s Olympic Games, meaning that Sri Lanka now has an individual place for Tokyo. Hong Kong, which had been allocated an individual slot for Jumping following the removal of the Villeneuve-Loubet results by the FEI, is now the first reserve in Group G for Tokyo. The final list of competing nations at the Tokyo Olympic Games will be confirmed on 5 July 2021.

The FEI’s original decision to annul specific competition results at the French venue was based on findings from an investigation launched by the FEI after concerns were raised about the integrity of these events. The investigation established that a total of 12 competitions counting for Olympic and Longines Rankings had been added after the Definite Entries deadline in contravention of the FEI Rules (Article 110.2.3 of the FEI General Regulations). The changes to the Schedules were submitted to the FEI by the French National Federation and were mistakenly approved by the FEI.

As a result, and in accordance with Article 112.3 of the FEI General Regulations, the FEI retrospectively removed the additional competitions, requiring a recalculation of the Olympic and Longines Rankings.

An appeal against the FEI decision was dismissed by the FEI Tribunal in June 2020, and the two athletes and the Sri Lankan National Federation then took their appeal to the CAS.

In its ruling, the Panel noted that the “protection of the integrity of FEI’s events and competitions will be much more effective if they may also be cancelled retroactively, because – in many cases – the circumstances giving rise to integrity or ethical issues (such as betting, bribery, or match fixing) will only become known through information that transpires as late as during or after the event.”

The Panel confirmed that Article 112.3 of the FEI General Regulations gives the FEI Secretary General the authority to remove events or competitions even with retroactive effect, providing an “effective instrument” to intervene when the FEI “becomes aware of circumstances jeopardising the integrity of an event without the FEI having had any chance to prevent such circumstances before or during the affected event.” However, the Panel ruled that it was not the purpose of Article 112.3 “to allow the FEI to retroactively rectify mistakes which entirely stem from its own sphere,” referencing the “human error” at the FEI that had resulted in approval of the updated Schedules.

The Panel referred to the two-stage approval process (National Federation and the FEI) which should ensure that “only those schedules are approved which are compliant with the relevant rules and regulations for FEI events.” While acknowledging that there had been a violation of FEI Rules, the Panel declared “the rule violation would never have occurred without the FEI’s erroneous authorisation of the Updated Schedules. The Organiser could not have implemented the updates without permission of both the FFE and FEI.”

The CAS Panel ruled that as the FEI had failed to establish “justified circumstances” for the removal of the competitions, the prerequisites of Article 112.3 were not fulfilled and that, as a consequence, the FEI decision as well as the appealed decision of the FEI Tribunal are unlawful and must be reversed.

“This is a very disappointing result for the FEI, but we respect the decision as we knew that mistakes were made and the CAS decision is based on that,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “When we decided to annul the Villeneuve-Loubet results in order to do the right thing from a sports integrity perspective, we knew there was a possibility we could lose this case on appeal, but we agreed it was a risk worth taking.

“However, we have been proactive in addressing the issues and in February 2020 implemented the online invitation system for FEI Jumping events that introduced a quota system for CSI 2* for the first time, but the rules were not in effect at the time of the events in question. In addition, Organisers of CSI2* events that wish to include competitions counting for the Longines Rankings must now invite a minimum of 50 athletes and the FEI is also reviewing the scale of Olympic Ranking points based on the number of participants in competitions.”

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Tribunal and CAS Decisions

Lausanne (SUI), 23 June 2015 – The FEI Tribunal has issued its Final Decision in the case involving Nasser Khalifa N.J Al Thani (QAT) and the horse Brookleigh Caspar (FEI ID AUS40748) at the 120km one-star Endurance competition at Mesaieed in Doha (QAT) on 11 April 2014, following a positive finding for Prohibited Substances.

Samples taken from the horse on 11 April 2014 returned positive for the Banned Substance Heptaminol and Controlled Medications Phenylbutazone, Meloxicam and Dexamethasone. Heptaminol is a stimulant that dilates blood vessels. Phenylbutazone and Meloxicam are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used for pain relief, and Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory effect.

Controlled Medications are substances that are regularly used to treat horses, but which are not allowed in competition in order to maintain a level playing field. Banned Substances should never be found in the horse.

The FEI Tribunal has imposed a 27-month suspension on Al Thani, effective immediately from 18 June 2015, in accordance with Article 169 of the FEI’s General Regulations and Article 10 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMRs).

Al Thani has been fined CHF 5,000 and will contribute CHF 2,000 towards the costs of the judicial procedure. He has 30 days from the date of notification to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The FEI Tribunal’s Final Decision on this case can be viewed here.

The FEI Tribunal has also issued its Final Decision in the case involving Gillese De Villiers (RSA) and the horse Tra Flama at the Endurance competition of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, following a positive finding for a Controlled Medication Substance.

Samples taken on 28 August 2014 from the horse returned positive for the Controlled Medication substance Phenylbutazone and its metabolite Oxyphenbutazone. Phenylbutazone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory used for the treatment of pain. Tra Flama was vetted out at the second Vet Gate on the Endurance course.

The FEI Tribunal has imposed a six-month suspension on De Villiers, effective immediately from 21 June 2015, in accordance with Article 169 of the FEI’s General Regulations and Article 10 of the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations.

De Villiers has also been fined CHF 500, will cover the B Sample analysis costs and contribute towards the costs of the judicial procedure. She has 30 days from the date of notification to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The FEI Tribunal’s Final Decision on this case can be viewed here.

Separately, the CAS has upheld the FEI’s principle of strict liability in the application of the EADCMRs in an appeal lodged by HH Sheikh Hazza Bin Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (UAE) against the FEI Tribunal ruling of 7 April 2014, but has reduced the period of suspension for the athlete from 27 to 18 months.

The horse Glenmorgan, which HH Sheikh Hazza rode to win the CEI3* in Al Wathba (UAE) on 11 February 2012, tested positive for Propoxyphene and its metabolite Norpropoxyphene. Propoxyphene, which is an opiate analgesic, is classified as a Banned Substance under the FEI’s EADCMRs. As the rider and therefore the Person Responsible, HH Sheikh Hazza was immediately suspended from 12 March 2012, the date on which he was notified by the FEI of the positive case. A two-month provisional suspension was imposed on the horse from the same date.

HH Sheikh Hazza conducted extensive investigations to establish the source of the Propoxyphene between mid-June 2012 and late February 2014. In its Final Decision, the FEI Tribunal imposed a 27-month suspension, taking into account a previous rule violation by Sheikh Hazza in early 2005. Sheikh Hazza lodged an appeal with the CAS against the findings on 6 May 2014.

The CAS rejected the athlete’s argument that making the rider the Person Responsible (PR) for the horse is an unnecessary and/or disproportionate interference with fundamental rights, and so unlawful and therefore outside the powers of the FEI. The CAS accepted the FEI’s argument that the PR and strict liability provisions simply mean that if the horse has a prohibited substance in its system, the athlete’s results with the horse are automatically disqualified and the athlete will be banned unless he/she can show that the substance got into the horse’s system through No Fault or Negligence of the athlete.

The CAS took into account that systems had been set up by Sheikh Hazza to avoid inadvertent doping, and therefore decided that the athlete’s fault was “not significant”. As a result, the appeal was partially upheld, with a partial amendment to the FEI Tribunal’s Final Decision. Sheikh Hazza remains disqualified from the event, but his suspension was reduced.

The full text of the CAS decision is available here.

Banned Substances & Controlled Medications

Banned Substances are substances that are completely prohibited for use in FEI horses at any time. Controlled Medications are substances that are regularly used to treat horses, but which are not allowed in competition in order to maintain a level playing field. As part of FEI Clean Sport, the live Prohibited Substances Database provides an easily accessible online platform on which Banned Substances and Controlled Medications are clearly distinguished.

The FEI’s General Regulations are here and the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations are here.

FEI Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 45