25 April 2010

EXCLUSIVE: McLain Ward Explicitly Prohibited From Winning Rolex FEI World CupTM Final By Terms Of FEI-Rolex Sponsorship Contract

It has taken awhile, but The Carrot has finally gotten to the bottom of the latest FEI fiasco in Geneva. Utilising our excellent sources in Switzerland, we have uncovered a highly confidential copy of Rolex's latest FEI sponsorship contract, the curiously timed renewal of which was announced on Monday, 12 April, just before the start of the Rolex FEI World CupTM Final (you'll want to see our related story). Apparently, McLain Ward does not have many fans at Rolex, SA, but they insist it is not because of his past history or family connections (that would be wrong!), but because of an anonymous tip received by the very expensive public relations firm Hill and Knowlton that it just might be best for the welfare of the horse Rolex's image if Mr. Ward and a chestnut mare with a bit of a reputation did not top the podium this time. Maybe that would have been OK for Las Vegas, but not in Geneva.

Once we had the contract in hand, Rolex, SA CEO Bruno Meier proved quite chatty: "When our Rolex Testimonee Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum indicated she was not yet up to the top level of competition following the arrival of little Brianne Victoria, we had a problem. We don't sponsor HRH's personal hero Ludger Beerbaum, otherwise that would have been a no-brainer," he remarked. "Therefore, we took the highly democratic decision to leave the title open to the entire field, with one important exception. The contract was amended to exclude Mr. Ward and the witchy, twitchy mare from the podium, by any means necessary. We have to protect our bottom line; we lost a billion Swiss francs on that Madoff thing. Oh wait, we officially denied that, never mind, that didn't happen. But we still need to look after our financial interests. It is a very difficult time for luxury goods."

The FEI president agreed enthusiastically to these terms, since clearly she'll jump off a cliff and take the sport with her if the right person whispers in her ear at the right moment in time. The Carrot notes that this was definitely the right moment for a little "welfare" and "integrity" display.

Horrified that the Rolex secret was out, HRH issued a statement at an FEI damage control session press conference on Saturday, 17 April: "I would like to emphasise that the rules and the protocols allow for disqualification at any stage on welfare of the sponsor grounds," she said. "We have a duty to care for our horses sponsor's image. If it is agreed that a horse is in pain not the one our sponsor wants to see win, then it has to be eliminated, even retroactively!" Responding to criticism about commercialism overtaking any FEI concern about horse welfare, HRH countered, "My commitment to the welfare of horses is unwavering and unquestionable, as publicly demonstrated by the way I crashed them into fences all over the world on my way to the Olympics."

The FEI veterinary and commercial departments, recently combined in a cost-saving measure, also commented to rebut objections that sponsor interests were trumping veterinary matters: "The people at Rolex were indeed very concerned about Sapphire's welfare. We know it wasn't in the contract, but it was still important enough for us to pull it out of our arse just now. There was the possibility that, being female, Sapphire could be pregnant, and neither Rolex nor the FEI would want her to feel any pressure to continue competing in order to keep her rider's place in the Rolex RankingsTM.  It might harm the baby...what's that you call a horse baby? A foal, yes, that's right.  It might harm the foal. Or, feeling hormonal she just might not jump well, and then Mr. Ward would have a whole other set of problems with his declining ranking position. Really, it's for the athlete's and the horse's protection."

A journalist enquired, "Wouldn't it make more sense to find out if she actually was pregnant, and then take that decision?" The FEI comm-vet director responded, "Well, we did have her examined several times, and we couldn't prove she was not pregnant. It's best to err on the side of caution in such matters; there's no telling what she's been up to since she doesn't compete much. I mean, who really knows what goes on at McLain Ward's farm?" The journalist persisted, "What was the nature and standard of the exam? Was it conducted by reproductive specialists?" The FEI replied, "It was conducted by the FEI's Official Pastern Poking Police. They transferred their officially FEI-licenced pastern poking skills and poked her underbelly 57 times. Each and every time she reacted strongly, even kicking out and attempting to bite. The evidence was of a marked reaction to a one centimetre spot on her underbelly, in the exact region where a hypothetical baby foal would be located. We also put some leeches on there and they had a go, so there was probably something going on. She got very twitchy and irritated with the leeches."

The FEI continued, "Perhaps there is a cultural divide here. Rolex is a Swiss company, the FEI is a Swiss organisation, this is a Swiss event—wait, not that the Swiss were involved in this or anything, that was the Germans, no, wait, I'm getting confused! Wrong conspiracy. It was just one person, who only happens to be German, but not the FN. And it was completely anonymous, even though everyone knows. Where was I? Oh, yes...in Switzerland we believe in protecting our females. In fact, we managed to protect them from voting until 1971...can you believe that? We also heard a rumour that Sapphire might even be a witch. Mares can be quite witchy, you know; we are all horse people here at the FEI, so we know that. If there is any hypothetical possibility that she might be a witch, she must be eliminated. Witches are always 'unfit to compete' under FEI rules because they might be possessed by demons or something, which could hypothetically cause them hypothetical pain. Really, it's for their own welfare. Oh, and I almost forgot...it's also for the integrity of the sport, not that we're accusing anyone of anything." Someone in the back of the room yelled, "She's a witch!!!" A roar started throughout the crowd, "Yes, she's a witch! Get her!!!" The scene descended into chaos as everyone ran towards the stables.

Responding to the public fallout, Rolex, SA has tried to make amends by reducing inventory sending Mr. Ward a nice new watch as a consolation prize, and reassuring him that it had nothing to do with his "past" or his family, it was solely due to the anonymous tip. And Sapphire's welfare. And also the integrity of the sport, not that they're accusing anyone of anything.

We're sure that's very comforting.

Rolex SA
Rue François-Dussaud 3-5-7
CH-1211 Geneva 26
Tel  +41-22-302-2200
Fax +41-22-300-2255

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