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Steve Guerdat calls for consequences as riders rocket up Olympic and world rankings after earning points in classes with as few as five competitors

Friday, 14 February 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Steve Guerdat. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Steve Guerdat says that it is “unacceptable” that a small group of competitors at a series of CSI2* shows in Damascus, Syria and Villeneuve-Loubet, France have been able to earn ranking points that ultimately helped three of them to the top-two in their respective Olympic groups. Several of the athletes have also made significant climbs on the world ranking. Whereas the points for the Olympic ranking follow a scale and get reduced in accordance with the number of competitors that finishes the class, the world ranking has no similar system and athletes can earn full points despite competing against only a handful of other riders.

The Olympic Champion and world no. one, who currently serves as one of the board members in the International Jumping Riders Club, tells that he addressed the issue to the FEI in December last year.

“I personally told a FEI representative that the set-up in the schedules for the shows in Villeneuve-Loubet was unacceptable. I pointed out the fact that there was a very limited group of athletes invited, and an even more limited group of athletes actually competing at the events,” Guerdat tells. “The response I got was that the FEI was going to look into the situation. However, nothing happened from their side and the shows kept on running.”

In the beginning of January, Guerdat observed how riders competing at the events had moved up on the world ranking and also on the Olympic ranking. In the Olympic group for Middle East & Africa, the two riders topping the ranking earned respectively seven and thirteen of their fifteen counting results at the events in Damascus that were running from October to December 2019. The rider sitting second on the Olympic ranking in the group for South East Asia, Oceania earned nine out of 15 counting results at the events running in Villeneuve-Loubet throughout December 2019. On the world ranking, a rider participating at these events moved 1611 spots up on in one month, another 714 spots up in two months and yet another 650 spots up in two months – to mention some examples. 

“The FEI needs to take their responsibility. They have approved the schedules for these events, as well as the additions that have been made to them,” Guerdat says.

The General Regulations clearly state that athletes should be competing against each other under fair and equal conditions. This has not been the case at these events.  Should a Grand Prix with five riders competing really be counting for the world ranking and the Olympic ranking? I think that is unacceptable.” 

“Not only is this abuse of the FEI’s own regulations; it is not in compliance with the spirit of fair play – nor in compliance with the Olympic spirit. In my opinion, the FEI will have to annul the ranking points that have been earned at these events, they cannot stand as valid,” Guerdat says. “Let the riders keep their prize money, but not the ranking points.”

“I would also like to point out the athletes’ and officials’ responsibilities for the development of our sport. We should all be promoting the values our sport should be based on. It should be fair and equal for all, and we should all contribute to this,” Guerdat says. 

The International Jumping Riders Club has already requested that the FEI intervenes to “ensure fair play and the fair development of jumping events”, and IJRC President Kevin Staut informs World of Showjumping that the Club will be attending a meeting with the FEI Jumping Department and the Ranking Working Group in order to discuss the issue. “As the owners of the formula for the world ranking list, the IJRC is considering suggesting some changes in order to avoid a possible manipulation of the list,” Staut says in a statement to World of Showjumping. 

On request from World of Showjumping, the FEI comments: "As per our previous statement, the FEI is looking into this matter. We will communicate on 17 February the list of individual quotas, both the individual slot for each NOC that has withdrawn their team quota place and the allocation of individual quota places based on the Olympic rankings."


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