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US Olympian Rich Fellers issued temporary suspension after SafeSport allegations

Thursday, 11 February 2021
Sport

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Rich Fellers. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text by Erin Gilmore

 


 

U.S. Olympic team veteran and former World Cup Champion Rich Fellers, 61, has been temporarily suspended from participating in the sport. Fellers’ wife, Shelley Fellers, 54, is also suspended.

The suspension is a result of the Fellers’ names being added to the U.S. Center For SafeSport’s temporary suspension list as of February 9th, 2021 for “allegations of misconduct”. The United States Equestrian Federation enforces actions taken by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport

Rich and Shelley Fellers own and operate Rich Fellers Stables LLC in Oregon City, Oregon. In 2012, Rich became the first American rider in a quarter century to win the Rolex/FEI World Cup Jumping Final aboard the Irish-bred stallion Flexible. Later that year, Rich and Flexible went on to represent the United States at the London Olympic Games, where they finished with the best result of the American show jumping team. Rich was named the 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year. Shelley has competed up to the Grand Prix level in the USA and is a professional trainer.

After the suspension was published by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, former junior rider Maggie Kehring, 18, came forward publicly as the complainant. Kehring has retained counsel and released the following statement via her social media:

“I know it is hard for my peers, friends, coaches, and strangers to understand the suspension of my former trainer and his wife. It is important to know this investigation and process has been underway for many, many months. I initially didn't want to participate in the SafeSport process out of confusion and fear. I struggled with the thought the world would know that what occurred to me for many years would lead to someone America came to love to possibly be banned from the sport. Reading what people have posted on social media is cruel and heartless. 

“I can only hope what happened to me never happens to them or someone they love. No one needs to take sides. What happened to me is something I can never get back and I am working every day on coping with that realization. Things were taken from me that people will simply not understand. I don't understand why me, either. But I can assure you of this, what happened, happened! There is no revenge, there are no lies. Just the pure and simple truth. I know my future holds people who will look at me with anger and those that will support me. Just know, I was a junior.”

The U.S. Center of Safe Sport issued the temporary suspensions of Rich and Shelley Fellers after conducting an initial investigation over several months into the allegation, which included and was not limited to no less than eight interviews with complainants. It will issue a final decision after a full hearing on the merits of the case takes place. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has exclusive jurisdiction over reports of sexual misconduct and determines whether suspensions should be imposed. The U.S. Center for SafeSport is recognized by the United States Congress, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and USEF as the official safe sport organization for all Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Para Pan American sports in the United States. USEF released the following statement in response to the recent suspension of Rich and Shelley Fellers:

“USEF takes allegations of misconduct very seriously, and will enforce the temporary suspensions put in place by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, but, most importantly, respect the privacy and confidentiality of the process for all parties involved.”

Neither Rich Fellers nor his lawyer, Howard Jacobs, responded to requests for comment. 



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