News 7th September 2015

FEI suspends official after investigation into ‘fake’ races

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has suspended Dr. Hallvard Sommerseth, who heads the veterinary department at the United Arab Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF), after concluding its investigation into ‘fake’ races. In March, the FEI tasked its Equestrian Community Integrity Unit with investigating claims that two endurance horse races in the UAE – listed on the FEI internet site as taking place on 23 December and 21 January – never actually took place. The Daily Telegraph reported that detailed results data from the two races were identical to data from previous races, suggesting it had been copied. The Telegraph also alleged that a further ten races staged in the UAE appear to be bogus.

The FEI said that its integrity unit has now completed its report, which investigated whether the 12 races may have not actually taken place. According to the report, which has yet to be released, accurate timing systems were not used at the events in question and ‘accurate timings were not taken of each competitor’s phases’. Instead, the times submitted in the official results provided to the FEI were copied from other events already in the FEI system.

‘The suspension has been imposed as a result of Dr. Sommerseth’s consistent failure to comply with FEI Rules and Regulations over a period of several years’, read a FEI statement issued today. ‘Dr. Sommerseth had failed to observe the FEI Rules and Regulations while acting as an FEI Official at a number of FEI international Endurance events over a three-year period from April 2012 to February 2014. By allowing the events to take place without accurate timing systems he failed in his responsibility as Technical Delegate and this failure was a contributory factor in duplicate results being submitted to the FEI.’

The FEI said that the suspension was for an ‘indefinite period’. Dr. Sommerseth has 30 days in which to appeal the decision from 1 September. The FEI warned that under an agreement signed with the EFF at the end of July, ending the EFF’s suspension, it must implement and enforce the sanction on Dr. Sommerseth.

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