The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has dismissed Irish jockey Cian O’Connor and Horse Sport Ireland’s appeal to have the result at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) European Jumping Championship overruled. The Championship took place in August 2015 in Germany and was a qualifying event for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. During Mr. O’Connor’s round a steward ran across the course directly in front of his mount, Good Luck. Mr O’Connor and Horse Sport Ireland assert that Mr O’Connor and Good Luck were distracted by the steward which caused his mount to knock over a bar at the next jump. This error cost the Irish team crucial points in the Championship with the result that the Irish team narrowly missed out on a qualifying sport for the Olympics by 0.38 points.
The FEI is the international governing body for all Olympic Equestrian matters. Appeals by Mr O’Connor and Horse Sport Ireland to both the FEI Ground Jury immediately following the incident and a subsequent appeal later in the evening to the FEI Appeal Committee failed. Explaining the reason for rejecting the appeal the FEI said: “The protest was heard by the ground jury, who ruled that as the athlete had continued his round, they saw no reason to stop him by ringing the bell. Under Article 233.3 of the FEI Jumping Rules, the athlete had the opportunity to stop voluntarily due to unforeseen circumstances beyond his control, however he did not do so.” Having exhausted the FEI internal appeals process Mr. O’Connor and Horse Sport Ireland then appealed to the CAS.
The CAS issued its decision on 4 January 2016 dismissing the appeal with the written reasoning behind the decision expected to follow in the coming weeks.