Saturday 22 October 2016

Fresh controversy over Greg Broderick's Olympic place

Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30

Greg Broderick was selected to go to Rio. Photo: Sportsfile
Greg Broderick was selected to go to Rio. Photo: Sportsfile

Doubts still exist over the eligibility of show jumper Greg Broderick's horse for the Rio Olympics, despite assurances from Horse Sport Ireland that all paperwork for MHS Going Global is in order.

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Broderick and his mount were seen as a controversial choice earlier this month by team manager Robert Splaine, to represent Ireland in Rio. Splaine overlooked Ireland's top-ranked rider Bertram Allen, and also the claims of more experienced competitors such as Cian O'Connor and Denis Lynch, when opting for the 31-year-old Tipperary man, in a move that caused some surprise in Irish show jumping circles.

Now Broderick's participation in the Games is mired in fresh controversy amid claims that MHS Going Global has not been properly registered in time for the Olympics in August.

Under Olympic rules, competing horses "must have been registered with FEI [the international governing body] as property of owners of the same nationality as the athlete by 15 January, 2016".

The FEI's deadline for the submission of paperwork is tomorrow afternoon but HSI told the Irish Independent it had "no issue with nominating Greg or MHS Going Global this Monday". A spokesperson added: "The horse was bred in Ireland; it has been here since 2012."

And yesterday a spokesperson for HSI said: "HSI's selection criteria for the Olympic Games included a clause on eligibility and provides for an appeal to [the arbirtration body] Just Sport Ireland. No appeals were submitted before or subsequent to the appeal deadline. If any party has evidence that any horses selected for the Olympic Games in Dressage, Eventing or Show Jumping are ineligible to compete they are welcome to submit it to Horse Sport Ireland. However, as it stands, we are satisfied that all horses nominated in all three disciplines are eligible to compete."

Despite these assurances, the Sunday Independent understands concerns remain. Ownership rules around horses at the Games are strictly enforced. This is hardly surprising given that nationality is a central tenet of the Olympic movement. This particular rule was introduced to prevent the wealthier nations from purchasing top horses before the Olympics in an effort to 'buy' a medal.

It is understood that although MHS Going Global is indeed registered in Ireland, care of Broderick's stables in Thurles, the owner of the horse has been listed as Caledonia Stables, a Canadian company under the direction of Lee and Paul Kruger.

It is also understood that other horses owned by Caledonia Stables compete under the Canadian flag. This being the case, the horse may have been registered in error in Ireland for the last four years. But it remains to be seen whether the registration will stand up to scrutiny by the FEI.

If all is in order, Broderick will be confirmed as Ireland's representative at the Games, but if not then Splaine will be forced back to the drawing board.

HSI are allowed to nominate three riders and horses to the FEI ahead of tomorrow's deadline but a final decision on who will take Ireland's sole spot in the individual event at Rio is not officially required until July 18. In fact, there had been some surprise that Splaine had announced Broderick's selection so early - much earlier than other leading nations - when there was still some time to go to the deadline.

Although the claims of Allen - whose performances initially earned Ireland a place in the individual event at the Games - O'Connor and Lynch, were overlooked, it is thought that if Broderick must be replaced, then his replacement will come from one of those three. O'Connor won bronze in London four years ago having not been originally selected to compete.

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