(Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was suspended by world equestrian's governing body (FEI) on Friday for staging two international endurance competitions as national events in an attempt to circumvent new rules.
The ban will see the UAE suspended across all FEI disciplines until the new year and endurance competitions through March 31, 2021.
The UAE has 21 days to appeal the decision.
It marks the second time in five years the UAE has been sanctioned by FEI. In 2015 the UAE was suspended over endurance horse welfare issues.
An independent investigation found that two national endurance events in January and February, the Sheikh Mohammed Cup and The President's Cup, far exceeded the quota of foreign riders permitted for national competitions and should been held as international events.
FEI determined the reason for re-classifying the events as national competitions was to avoid the application of the new endurance rules that were scheduled to take effect as of Jan. 1 2020.
The UAE national federation must also pay a percentage of organising dues that would have gone to the FEI had the events been staged as international competitions, FEI legal costs as well as a financial sanction that will have a percentage of the prize money go to the world governing body.
"It is extremely disheartening that we are tackling similar issues in 2020 and that we have had to revert to the suspension of the National Federation," said FEI president Ingmar De Vos in a statement.
"However, the UAE National Federation’s clear intent to avoid the application of the new Rules at the biggest events in their calendar was reflected in their actions around these two events and, as a community, we cannot allow individual NFs to apply the rules only as and when it suits them."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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