Argentinians guilty of cruelty

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The four members of Argentina's show jumping team at the Atlanta Olympics have been suspended for six months after being found guilty of severe cruelty to their horses.

The judicial committee of the international governing body of the sport, the FEI, reported yesterday on the results of a hearing into the alleged mistreatment of horses by the Argentinian riders at Georgia's Pine Top Farm.

The panel listened to evidence and inspected photographs of the training methods used, which included taking their horses over obstacles with wire and nails across the top.

"To use for training a course of this kind amounts in the committee's view to severe cruelty of which the entire Argentinian Olympic show- jumping team were guilty," the FEI statement said.

The team's 17th place in the show jumping at the Olympics has been declared void, the riders are suspended from all international competition for six months, and the riders must pay an unspecified amount to cover the cost of the hearing.

This is not the first time Argentinian riders have been involved in controversy. The 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow saw Jose Ortelli's exhausted horse put down after the cross-country, while Ferdando Zuviria had two falls and was prevented from remounting after a third by spectators distressed at the condition of his horse.