03/12/2015 3:25PM

United Arab Emirates banned from endurance races


The international governing body of equestrian events has suspended the United Arab Emirates from participating in any endurance events for an indefinite period after concerns were raised about endurance races hosted by the country, the governing body, known as FEI, announced on Thursday.

Under the terms of the suspension, which was announced after an investigation by the FEI into “welfare issues” during the endurance races, the UAE “may not attend or be represented at any session or meeting of any body of the FEI, may not organize any international events, and its members cannot participate in any international event,” the FEI said. However, the FEI will allow UAE athletes outside of the endurance discipline to compete in international competitions outside of the UAE.

Earlier this year, the FEI canceled two endurance races in the UAE after receiving reports that three horses died during a race. The FEI is also known to be investigating whether the UAE staged fake qualifying races, according to reports.

“The decision to suspend a National Federation is not something that is taken lightly and we only should do this if no other remedy can be found,” said Ingmar de Vos, the president of the FEI, in a statement. “Sadly, this was the only option left.”

The suspension will be lifted when “the UAE Federation pledges to take such action as the FEI Bureau deems necessary to assure the FEI and all stakeholders that the UAE Federation is protecting the welfare of the horse and complying fully with the FEI Rules and Regulations,” the statement read.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and the head of the Godolphin international racing and breeding operation, is heavily involved in endurance racing in the federation.