12 April 2010

Oh My, We Have A Situation

Or, The Carrot Reluctantly Strays Into (Mostly) Serious Commentary
(this is very long and there may be some profanity)

Some readers may not yet be aware, but we've actually had a Situation a-simmerin' since 17 March, when an intrepid Canadian journalist named Karen Robinson dared to call something out more than two weeks after everyone, starting with the FEI's illustrious Ground Jury, started pretending it never happened. We knew this was really something when the entire United States of America went silent. When even The Carrot's resourceful correspondents can't get a word out of anybody, you know it's really going to be good. Then you know it's really a Situation. We just can't pass up great comedy material here at The Carrot, but first we really need to outline the extent of the bullshit for informational purposes, because no one else is doing it and these arsehats really, really deserve it.

First, if you haven't seen this emerging YouTube star, watch the show before reading further. We mostly left this kid alone when there was no video, because as we know just as well as the FEI and USEF, if it's not on YouTube, it didn't really happen. And what we've learned in this faux news business is that it's always best to let the FEI Nation write its own material. We'd never want to interfere with a good clusterfuck as it unfolds, and we just had a feeling about this thing. So we kept pretty quiet and watched, even though we have some impatient readers all but demanding fresh Carrots on this. But now there's a video, which has managed an impressive 8200 views as of this writing despite a very conspicuous US media blackout. Still, we are far less concerned with the offence itself than we are with the inaction of the FEI judges and USEF bigwigs at the time, and the behaviour of the two governing bodies after the fact.

At the end of March, this little intrigue became even more of a Situation when the good people at Faux Equestrian Investigations finally returned to Ms. Robinson with their opening offer of astonishing bullshit:
The FEI is aware of the incident involving Michael Morrissey of the USA riding the horse Crelido at CSI2* Wellington on 27 February. We are investigating the matter alongside the USEF to determine whether, and to what extent the rider breached FEI and/or USEF rules. Mr. Morrissey was nevertheless disqualified from the rest of this Event and was not permitted to continue taking part in the United States Selection Trials for the World Equestrian Games organised during that and the following week.

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Oh my. Where do we begin? We hope Ms. Robinson will eventually note who sent her this bullshit, because it's really something. Likely it came from the Secretary General, but that doesn't mean he wrote it. We know he's an attorney, and we don't think he's that stupid.  Regardless of its origin, let's examine the bullshit closely:

1. This is sent from Faux Equestrian Investigations, on behalf of themselves and their co-conspirators investigators USEF, to a real live journalist about an allegedly pending legal issue, in a private email. As if the matter solely concerns this journalist, who has already published on the subject matter. That tells us something...hmmmm...do you think maybe they're trying to keep this sorta quiet?  You betcha!  Red flag!  Bet they didn't plan on her publishing their email. Or people actually reading her blog.

2. Isn't it strange that it took the FEI/USEF such a long time to report back to her such very basic allegedly factual happenings at their own event held a month prior? The facts are that they both already knew who was or was not disqualified at their own event, because they have the official results sitting in their own damn offices!  It doesn't take a week or two to get that information. If he was really disqualified, they'd want to get back to her as soon as possible so she could correct her blog before more people were misinformed.  Now on the other hand, if you've got to get together with certain other parties and come up with a good story, that might take a week or two. You might really have to put your thinking caps on, to see how you can get yourselves out of this one. Because you really want to make sure you get the bullshit right the first time, since there's no going back. The reality is that the rider placed 35th in the class and remained thus until about five minutes before the bullshit came down from what Ms. Robinson humourously calls "Mission Control."  Clearly, we are all presumed to be idiots (this is a recurring pattern).

3. Not only does the FEI have the same official results as the USEF/OC, but they get reports from no fewer than three of their own officials from each event, telling them about any disciplinary actions taken, any unusual incidents, and any acts of abuse of horse. The forms even specifically request information on the crowd and press reaction to any abuse of horse. But of course, horse abuse never happens! The crowd and press didn't react to something that never happened! And The Carrot is certain that those reports won't suddenly (you'll want your air quotes ready) "go missing" and need to be "re-submitted." Yes, we're quite sure of that.

4. More pesky facts: The rider was actually in the next selection trial on 3 March, and placed 22nd. He was ranked 24th in the overall selection trials standings, as published by USEF via the highly esteemed The Chronicle of the Horse, which covered the trials in great detail yet mentioned nothing out of the ordinary occurring at this event. Perhaps the reporter was in the loo during the round in question. Or helping the USA jumping chef d'√©quipe put the finishing touches on another letter to the FEI about rollkur.  In either case Mr. Morrissey might look into getting better PR representation, so he can be sure to get noticed next time!  Upon having the original bullshit called to their attention, an unknown representative of the USEF told Ms. Robinson that they made a mistake, and meant to say he was banned beginning with the fourth trial, not the third one. The FEI indicated that they had correspondingly made a mistake in reporting USEF's mistake in turn to Ms. Robinson. But you see, the FEI wasn't dependent upon the USEF
to tell them who took part in the third trial, because again, they have the official results sitting right there in their own office. Apparently, it never occurred to them to cross-reference these results. My, that's quite an investigation they've got going on there! Impressive!

It's additionally very puzzling that the organising committee would make the very same mistake as the USEF, "accidentally" deleting the rider from the trial 3 results altogether. What an odd coincidence! This rider has some luck. Too bad he doesn't have better connections. Just how many relatives on the OC does it take to get them to keep your damn results straight?

5. Now here's where it gets good. If they "are investigating" (present tense) to determine "whether (keyword)...the rider breached FEI and/or USEF rules," then what the hell was he (allegedly) "disqualified" for? They don't merely say they are determining whether the extent to which he breached any rules required further punishment, but whether rules were breached to begin with. That's incredible. Again, who wrote this shit? Are they stoned? That's incredible even for Switzerland. But then you have the America factor. You mean to tell us the USEF is still determining whether this rider breached USEF and/or FEI rules, and yet he was barred from further selection consideration for the WEG?  Seriously?  What's that Southern saying...this Carrot didn't just fall off the turnip truck! They would never do that. Because that would be un-American. If you think that's OK, then you hate America and you might as well just go join Osama bin Laden. Or at least go for an endurance ride for Al Qaeda world peace with his kid Omar. That would never happen. We'd aver that for that to happen, you'd pretty much have to kill a horse for insurance money and have the guilty verdict come down during the selection trials. Banned from consideration for the WEG because you got a little whip-happy? Give us a break. That is preposterous even before you consider they haven't yet determined whether he broke any rules! The Carrot so loathes being taken for a fool. Proportional response, people, proportional response. When you fall all over yourselves with such over-the-top heapin' piles o' hot steamin' bullshit, reasonably smart folk can see right through that.

6. If USEF had really banned someone from their selection trials, how is it that no one in the entire United States of America seemed to know anything about it? You can't keep a lid on something like that, even with the full complicity of the US media!  The Carrot posits that the only way to keep a lid on something like that, in such a densely populated equestrian zone as Wellington, Florida, would be for it never to have even happened to begin with. Then you'd be able to keep anyone from finding out!  If this had really happened, we're sure the USEF would have made an official statement about it by now to tell the public on what date this occurred and by what entity the decision was taken, lest there be any appearance of impropriety. Instead they are letting the FEI tell this tale for them. Red flag!

7. And most importantly, by whom was the rider (allegedly) disqualified? We know he was placed 35th in the class until just before this bullshit was dispensed from Faux Equestrian Investigations. That was about a month after the event. Any jurisdiction of the Ground Jury and Appeals Committee has thus ceased to exist for...a month. So how could they have disqualified him?  They can't get together for coffee a month later and decide to disqualify someone, or even convene on Facebook. That leaves the Tribunal, but Tribunals take awhile, especially for an American rider as USEF has to see if e.g., Alan Dershowitz is available to defend you, and so on. As well, when a Tribunal case is initiated, it's published on the FEI website in a handy case status table, as a certain extremely well-connected city-state ruler learned the hard way last year when someone forgot to tell the FEI lackey to post-date his doping case, and blew to bits the whole charade of him publicly falling on his sword to claim faux credit for what were obviously the FEI's discoveries of drugs in his horse. Unless you just fell off the turnip truck, and then by all means just go on believing that massive bullshit campaign, because any fairly observant person could see it was all a sham. But we digress.

The Carrot believes that what we have here is the very first case of Disqualification for Flogging by Blogging in the FEI's colourful judicial history.  But here's the thing: You can't be disqualified by a blogger! That's not how it works. Everyone knows that the only folks that can disqualify you from an FEI event (for anything other than an administratively handled medication case), are the Ground Jury doing their job, the Appeals Committee if the Ground Jury refers them a case a/k/a doing their job, or the Tribunal if the officials refer them a case a/k/a doing their job. Or, as applicable here, if the Secretary General refers the Tribunal a case after the event some Krazy Kanadian stirs up a shitstorm, a/k/a doing his job.  You know the Internet has really arrived when it can override the authority of the FEI Ground Jury, Appeals Committee, and Tribunal. Somebody be sure to tell Mr. Al Gore, his baby is all growed up!

The only exception to these rules is e.g., the organising committee at the 2004 FEI World Endurance Championships held under the very generous patronage of the ruler of Dubai, total utter arsehats who decided to "DQ" the winner on the basis of Dubai's own local drug test which of course had no legal application to the results of an FEI event. And all this while the FEI's sample on the same horse was still on its way to the lab. Yes, really. So they tell the gold medalist (who just happened to be from the wrong emirate/family) to go home just before the prize giving, and present the gold medal to the silver medalist, and the silver medal to their patron Sheikh Mohammed, who had actually only earned bronze at that stage.  Obviously he was fully satisfied with their incredible disregard for the rule of law and due process, or he wouldn't have been there receiving the silver medal, because these people were all on his payroll. And this made for very nice photos atop Dubai's podium. It's important to focus on what's important. But this ain't Dubai, kids. You can't do that kind of shit in the regular world!

So there you have it: You can be disqualified by the Ground Jury, by the Appeals Committtee, by the Tribunal, or, in very exceptional circumstances, by one of Sheikh Mo's organising committees, but that's it. NOT BY A BLOGGER! Otherwise, you are not, in fact, actually disqualified. Some people can tell a story about you and say you are disqualified, and even change your results, but that's not quite the same thing. If no one with the legal authority to disqualify you actually did so, then all these idiots would have done is falsify competition results and lie to cover their arses.  This to avoid having to put on their big boy trousers and deal with the real issue of the officials not doing their jobs, and to spare the poor VIP kid a Tribunal for what really was a relatively minor matter that should have been entirely dealt with at the event, case closed. They just don't learn.

As the sideshow currently stands, either Ms. Robinson can't get any further information out of those heading up this clusterfuck, or they have come back to her with such extraordinary further bullshit that they have rendered her speechless. Which after reading her blog, we suspect is very hard to do. The FEI's dead air is beautifully complemented by the curiously familiar and deafening silence out of The Federation headquarters in Lexington. They, as always, appear to know nothing despite allegedly conducting a joint arse covering exercise "investigation" with their BFF, Faux Equestrian Investigations. There is something very, shall we say, "progressive list-esque" about this particular quiescence. Like glue, these two. Like glue.

So, with a nod to one of our favourite full-blooded Americans Sarah Palin, how's that faux disqualifyin' and bannin' stuff workin' out for ya? Ya didn't think we'd notice, but we sure did, you betcha!

It's a good thing HRH ran on a platform of "transparency." Oh, it's transparent all right.

You betcha.

June 3 update

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