UAE under pressure as host of Endurance Horse-racing Championship over abuse scandal



Recurring sports scandals about horse abuse and fatalities, as well as animal doping and falsified results are placing the Emirates’ Equestrian Federation’s Dubai host city status for the 2016 World Endurance Championship for Seniors next December, under increasing strain.

Many international associations related to horse sports, including the American Endurance Ride Conference, have condemned these animal welfare violations and asked the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to relocate the tournament.

All long-­distance races in the UAE are currently suspended by the FEI after the scandalous flogging of five horses during a 120 km youth ride at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, on 30 January – watched in horror by many fans on TV Livestream. Five riders were permanently suspended and the international body gave the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) until 11 February to explain how it plans to solve its “serious issues.”

The Emir of Dubai – a keen equestrian himself – owns Dubai’s premier horse stable, Maktoums – one of the five stables fined $100,000 for their staff’s involvement in the 30 January abuse. Sheikh Mohammed Maktoum has acquired a record fine for any type of equestrian offence.

It is not the first time the  the FEI banned the UAE from this sport due to concerns over horse abuse, as well as unfair play. Races were suspended for three months at the beginning of 2015. This new warning could be their last and best chance.

“The EEF is closely monitoring the situation and we will show a no tolerance policy towards any such breach of the rules and regulations in the future,” said EEF chairman Mohammed Al Kamali after a recent board meeting. “Endurance riding is comparatively new and it is crucial that we maintain its authenticity to ensure a bright and healthy future for the sport.”

This commotion in horse endurance circles comes after a long list of recent sport controversies, like doping offences by Pakistani cricket players, world tennis match-fixing and FIFA corruption scandals. In this case in the Emirates, however, there are new victims besides the fans – the animals.


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