Equestrian: Reigning Olympic showjumping champion Eric Lamaze furious after disqualification

 

Reigning Olympic showjumping champion Eric Lamaze said he was ashamed of the sport tonight after his Canadian team-mate Tiffany Foster and her horse Victor were disqualified from London 2012.

In an emotive press conference at Greenwich Park, Lamaze was sitting just feet away from Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) president and International Olympic Council member HRH Princess Haya Al Hussain, and next to an inconsolable Foster.

Her horse was suspended under the FEI's hypersensitivity protocol after an area of inflammation and sensitivity was discovered on the horse's left forelimb.

There was no accusation of malpractice by the FEI, although their disqualification left no avenue of appeal for the Canadian team and Lamaze said a "miscarriage of justice" had occurred.

Overly-sensitive legs could give a horse an unfair advantage - they would be more careful to avoid hitting jumps, for instance - and are also a concern on welfare grounds.

Hypersensitivity can be caused by a range of problems, including infections and injuries, but also malpractice.

Vancouver-born Foster, 28, is at her first Olympic Games, and she only recently returned to riding after suffering a serious back injury.

Lamaze, who repeatedly consoled Foster during the often painful 25-minute media session, said: "This is a complete miscarriage of justice.

"We all know why the tests are done, but this has nothing to do with this rule.

"In the space of six minutes, five people poked at this horse's leg 50 times.

"This horse was fit to compete. How can five people declare him unfit to compete? How can they ruin someone's Olympic dream?

"I am ashamed of my sport, I am very much ashamed.

"There was no cheating involved. This was a simple injury which would not have put this horse in danger by any means, and would not have made it gain any advantage in the ring.

"This horse is in perfect condition.

"He does have a little superficial cut, but in such a short period of time without watching the horse jump, without taking him out of his stall, without assessing him in the warm-up ring, without doing all that, they can come to that conclusion."

Lamaze added: "Coming to the Olympics is a dream for everyone.

"Horses are going to have a little nick. There are big fences being jumped and they are difficult courses.

"Some people are not fit to ride these courses, and nobody calls that not fair.

"We have to take a hard look at what has happened today. I sure hope Canada wins a medal for Tiffany.

"Tiffany can hold her head up high. She did absolutely nothing wrong. The horse is sound, and she was dealt a really raw deal today."

Canada qualified for tomorrow's second phase of the team competition, but they will bid for a medal with just three riders - Lamaze, Ian Millar and Jill Henselwood.

PA

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