Cian O’Connor appeal on cards for December
The Horse Sport Ireland/Cian O’Connor appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following the debacle at the European Championships is likely to take place in mid-December, possibly in London or Lausanne, Switzerland.
CAS is said to have offered two dates, with December 16 being mooted as the most likely of the two.
A HSI spokesman said chief executive Damian McDonald felt the appeal “could be the week of December 14”.
CAS, however, was yesterday giving nothing away, saying no date had been fixed.
Neither was it in a position to disclose the identity of the panel of arbitrators yesterday, but it is believed it could comprise two British and one American person.
The appeal, which is being contested by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), is aimed at securing a team place in next year’s Olympics. It comes after a steward ran in front of O’Connor as he lined up Good Luck for a fence near the end of what had been a spectacular display in the second round of the nations cup at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany.
O’Connor incurred four faults, with the result that Ireland were denied a place in the Olympics, losing out by just 0.38 penalties to Spain.
O’Connor yesterday reiterated his confidence the appeal would succeed.
“I firmly believe that we will win our case before CAS. There are multiple anomalies that are not appropriate for me to discuss today, but we are certain of our ground and both HSI and my legal teams are very confident that, ultimately, Horse Sport Ireland will be awarded a showjumping team place at Rio next year.”
The appeal to CAS followed the dismissal of two appeals in Aachen, Germany, immediately after the incident with the steward. In September, HSI followed procedure and launched a further appeal to the FEI Tribunal, who said it was outside its jurisdiction.
HSI then appealed to CAS, and also set up a legal advisory committee that includes lawyers who are involved in the industry, including solicitor Philip O’Connor, who is a former member of the FEI tribunal.
You wouldn’t typically associate horses with skating.
However, the FEI has grabbed onto the coattails of the International Skating Union in its row with the Global Champions Tour, which is in the process of setting up a nations-cup-style Global Champions League (GCL) next year.
At its general assembly in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan the FEI vowed “to continue to fight the case between the FEI and the Global Champions League with all legal means”.
It pointed out that the FEI is “not the only international federation undergoing legal proceedings on unsanctioned events. The European Commission recently opened a formal anti-trust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that impose a lifetime ban from competitions, including the Olympic Games and the ISU World and European Championships, on athletes that take part in events not approved by the ISU”.
Last month, the Court of Appeal in Brussels upheld an earlier decision of the Belgian Competition Authority, which granted interim measures in July requiring the FEI to suspend its so-called “exclusivity clause”. This prevents riders and horses from competing in events not approved by the FEI.
“We simply want justice,” FEI president Ingmar De Vos said. “We welcome the European Commission’s formal investigation into the ISU case and await the outcome of that investigation with interest as it will establish the principle on unsanctioned events that will be implemented across the European Union for all sports.”