Team Canada in Equestrian Disqualification Controversy
Canada's hopes to repeat its performance in the Beijing Olympics and come home with a pair of medals in the equestrian event were dimmed yesterday, after rider, Tiffany Rider was disqualified shortly before her team show jumping final.
Officials who were checking for heat and sensitivity in the participating animals found that the horse, Victor, was suffering from hypersensitivity in his front leg.
Rules set up in 2005 allow authorities to disqualify the horse if hypersensitivity is found, to prevent riders from making the horse's legs tender in order to get it to jump more carefully.
However, Team Canada equestrian captain, Eric Lamaze, said the decision was a "complete miscarriage of justice" and said that he would be appealing the decision.
Officials have acknowledged that injury and infection can also produce heat, which could have caused the hypersensitivity.
No Cheating Suspected
Authorities stressed that the Team Canada equestrian disqualification was not brought on by suspicions of cheating by Forster or her teammates.
"I do want to be very clear with you all that there is absolutely no accusation of malpractice here," said the president of the International Federation of Equestrian Sports, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, herself a former show jumper.
"As a former competitor, I just totally empathize with what Tiffany is going through. It's completely crushing for her to experience this in her first Olympics."
Foster was virtually inconsolable during the press conference which announced her disqualification, and she was comforted by team captain Lamaze who said that the decision was a "complete miscarriage of justice."
He noted that the horse had not even been taken out of its stall or jogged around by officials before they made their decision.
"This horse was exercised in the morning, jumping in the morning, was completely fit," he said. "How can five people poking at a horse's coronary band declare him unfit to compete? How can they ruin someone's Olympic dream?"
Team Canada at a Disadvantage
The decision to oust Foster and her horse from the competition means that Team Canada is at a disadvantage as only three members will be contending in the team final on Monday.
Four member teams are allowed to drop their weakest scores from the two day total, but having only three members means that all Team Canada's scores count.
"I sure hope Canada can win a medal for her," said Lamaze about Foster's disappointment.
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