FEI Starts Own Investigation Into Abuse Allegations Evi and Tanya Strasser, CAS Temporarily Lifts Suspension

Sun, 05/19/2024 - 08:44
Canadian 1996 Olympian Evi Strasser at the 2024 CDI-W Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The FEI has officially started its own investigation into the allegations of horse abuse concerning the Canadian dressage duo Evi and Tanya Strasser.

The FEI has officially marked the commencement of their suspension on 22 April 2024 and stated that the case is "Open investigation allegations of Abuse of Horses."  Less than one month CAS has temporarily lifted the suspension so that they can compete at the CDI Ocala next weekend.

Equestrian Canada

On 17 February 2024 Equestrian Canada provisionally suspended the Strasser duo after "allegations of misconduct" were received "through EC's third-party complaints process. If EC receives a report from our Independent Third Party (ITP) Complaints Manager regarding a complaint they have received that is serious in nature, the respondents are provisionally suspended."

On the "Safe Sport" part of the Equestrian Canada website, the Stassers are both listed as persons "not in good standing".

The FEI followed suit on 18 February 2024 and also provisionally suspended the two.

"It is common practice for FEI to reciprocate (Provisional) Suspensions from National Federations at FEI level and vice versa. Regarding which body implements the suspension first, this would generally be in relation to overarching jurisdiction," the FEI told Eurodressage at the time.

FEI Starts Own Investigation

On the FEI's Table of Suspensions the Strasser are now officially suspended as of 22 April 2024. It has opened its own investigation.

"The relevant individuals were notified on 22 April 2024 that the FEI opened an investigation against them following allegations of abuse of horses," an FEI spokesperson told Eurodressage. "As of the date of notification, the relevant individuals were also provisionally suspended by the FEI. Taking into account the nature and severity of the allegations also reported directly to the FEI and the fact that the individuals are active FEI athletes, the FEI has decided to open its own investigation into the matter. Pending the investigation, the FEI will not provide any further details or comments."

Equestrian Canada has not issued any update on their investigation. It told Eurodressage that "we do not have any further information to share at this point as the independent complaints process is still ongoing and remains confidential - even to EC.  When the process is complete we are provided with a report and finding at which time we’ll be able to comment."

Eurodressage reached out to Strasser shortly after 22 April, who confirmed that their lawyer, Jean-Marc Mckenzie, would issue a statement. Multiple requests and attempts were made but no quote nor statement were ever received.

CAS Provisionally Lifts Suspension

On the FEI's updated "Table of Suspensions" posted 17 May, the Strasser duo has been removed. They are also no longer filed as suspended in the FEI Rider database either.

On May 8 the Strassers filed for an application to lift the provisional suspensions before the FEI tribunal through their legal counsel. On May 14 the FEI upheld the provisional suspensions.

On 15 May 2024 the Strassers applied for an urgent application to lift the provisional suspensions before the Court of Arbitration (CAS) as they have been trying to enter for the CDI Ocala on 22 - 26 May 2024 as part of their Canadian Olympic Team selection process.

On 15 May CAS granted them provisional measures and lifted the provisional suspensions on an interim basis.

The FEI "now has additional time to submit a more comprehensive reply so a final decision on the lifting of the provisional suspension will be issued in the next days," an FEI legal department spokesperson wrote. "The FEI is still of the opinion that the Provisional Suspensions must be re-instated (...). The FEI is still hoping that CAS will understand that the matter is very serious and that CAS will ultimately confirm that the FEI is entitled to provisionally suspend them. (...) The final outcome will be decided by the FEI Tribunal, respectfully CAS."

Related Links
FEI Suspends Evi and Tanya Strasser Pending EC's Investigation in Misconduct
Evi and Tanya Strasser Issue Statement on Provisional Suspension
Evi and Tanya Strasser Provisionally Suspended due to Allegations of Misconduct