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The FEI Sports Forum 2024 – Be a leader; be trusted; be transparent; be proactive; and be accountable

Monday, 29 April 2024

Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart. FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the FEI Sports Forum 2024 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart.


Text © World of Showjumping



The FEI Sports Forum 2024 kicked off on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland, with session one being dedicated to the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission’s final report and the proposed action plan, followed by session two that covered sustainability, while the third and final session of the day focused on the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Medication Control Regulations – the only FEI rules to go through a full review in 2024. 

Be a leader; be trusted; be transparent; be proactive; and be accountable

Photo © FEI/Richard Juilliart. FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez. Photo © FEI/Richard Juilliart.

Moderated by FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, it was FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström and FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch who went through the EEWC report and the suggested action plan. 

The Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission gave the FEI Board six early suggestions and 24 additional suggestions in their final report, focusing on six areas of priority: Training and riding, tack and equipment, followed by recognizing physical and emotional stress in second, accountability, enforcement and knowledge in third, the other 23 hours in fourth, competitive  drive and seeing the horse as a number/object in fifth and a horse not being fit to compete/masking health problems in sixth. 

The EEWC’s first suggestion to the FEI was for it to be a leader; be trusted; be transparent; be proactive; and be accountable. As FEI’s response to the EEWC’s report, Ibáñez, Rentsch and Åkerstrom explained the suggested action plan – the 'FEI Matrix of action'. 

“It is good with lawyers and vets, but I think we are the ones who are riding with these equipments,” IJRC President Francois Mathy Jr pointed out when the talk turned to the first subject of concern – tack and equipment. “We are the ones involved. It's like if you start talking to a Formula One driver about taking away his steering wheel and his brakes; I mean the precision that we have to ride with in these courses – not only for the results, but also for our safety; if you don't want to see crashes, we need to be precise. We need to be able to use these tools. It's very, very important to keep us involved in those discussions.”

Photo © FEI/Richard Juilliart. FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström. Photo © FEI/Richard Juilliart.

Moving forward, the FEI's proposed rule changes will be published on 26 June. The final action plan, which includes the possible rule changes, will be approved by the FEI Board and presented at the FEI General Assembly in November.

“The vision, which we all agreed would be that we need to give a good life for our horses, and the mission being that we – as FEI and all of you national federations – are guardians of the horses,” Ibáñez explained. “This is what leads us to provide the different actions that need to be undertaken. These actions are never ending actually because we will be producing them, they will be integrated, we’ll get feedback from stakeholders, from the riders, from the national federations. “ 

 “We will be publishing the PowerPoint presentation so that all of you can review it in depth,” she continued. “And I really would appreciate if you did review it in depth because we would like to hear from you. We are going to create a dedicated e-mail address called where you will be kindly requested to provide your feedback until the 15th of May.”


The presentation can be seen here. 


Who remains the person responsible in out-of-competition testing?

Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart. FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch. Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart.

In the third session of the day, FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch talked about the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Medication Control Regulations – that will go through a full revision this year.

To ensure a level playing field, the FEI introduced the idea of out-of-competition testing for banned substances. The legal challenges included – first of all, the question of who should remain the person responsible – were also discussed. Other subjects of the session included the possibility of testing gene doping, as well as introducing hair and saliva tests as effective, non-invasive testing methods that prolong the detection window with several months. 

The Grooms Charter

Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart. FEI President Ingmar De Vos and IGA's Lucy Katan with representatives from athletes, organisers, owners, trainers and officials’ stakeholder organisations. Photo © © FEI/Richard Juilliart.

The first day of the FEI Sports Forum 2024 ended with the signing of the FEI Grooms Charter. In 2017, the FEI held the first meeting with the FEI Grooms Working Group to establish how the FEI could better represent the grooms. After a follow-up meeting in 2019, the idea of the International Grooms Association was aired in 2020 and in 2022 the IGA signed a MoU with the FEI.

“This document, which is built around the principles of horse welfare, integrity, education and safety, was created to ensure that grooms have the tools they need to provide the highest level of care for the horses in their charge, and that they are respected and supported in their role,” FEI wrote in their press release about the Grooms Charter, which was signed by athletes, organisers, owners, trainers and officials’ stakeholder organisations. 

The Sports Forum continues tomorrow with three more sessions; 'FEI Championships review', 'Safeguarding - What NFs need to know' and 'Equity in equestrian – Assessing gender equality across key roles and levels'. You can watch the Sports Forum live here and send questions via a chat function. 


You can read the FEI's own reports from the Sports Forum 2024 via this link.

You can watch the live stream from the Sports Forum on replay here or below. 


Day one, morning session

Day one, afternoon session

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