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ESNZ Statement on FEI Tribunal decision

ESNZ Media Statement

Wellington, April 24, 2014 - Andrew Nicholson’s pathway to eventing’s biggest prize, the Rolex Grand Slam, has been cleared today following an important decision by the FEI Tribunal after an intervention by his compatriot Jonathan Paget.

The ruling of the partial hearing of the tribunal, released today by the FEI, disqualifies Paget and Clifton Promise from the standings of last September’s Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trials and is the result of a specific request made by the rider with the support of his national federation Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ).

Paget does not contest the presence of the banned substance reserpine in Clifton Promise, which was discovered following a blood test taken at the conclusion of the event which they won, and subsequently verified by B sample.

In January, Paget submitted a comprehensive dossier of evidence explaining and supporting his claim of ‘no fault and no negligence’ which he will present at the full in-person hearing of the tribunal on Tuesday, June 3, in London. Paget is clear that all presently available evidence shows neither he nor anyone else knew of the presence of the banned substance, before the sample was taken.

However, as the “Person Responsible” for Clifton Promise at Burghley, Paget accepts that a rule violation has occurred and asked, in a letter to the FEI tribunal on April 7, for the tribunal to take the unusual step of ruling on his disqualification at this stage rather than waiting for the June hearing. The disqualification is automatic but usually does not take effect until the case has been finally disposed of after the full hearing.

In his case, UK-based Paget is aware that the ongoing uncertainty with regard to the Burghley title is having a detrimental effect on the sport of eventing and especially the build-up to the first two major events of the Northern Hemisphere season, this weekend’s Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (May 8-11).

The tribunal has accepted the point of Paget’s request and has acknowledged that “…a ruling on the automatic disqualification from the Event in advance of a full hearing was of importance for the reputation and integrity of the sport…”.

The Burghley 2013 title will now pass to New Zealander Andrew Nicholson who defends his 2012 title on the same horse Avebury, and on whom he is competing at this weekend’s event in Kentucky.

Today’s ruling is welcomed by ESNZ and Paget, who will continue to focus on his case to the tribunal in London in June.

ENDS

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