14 Nov 2011

FEI General Assembly

Dear Friends,

I am so sorry I cannot be with you in Rio de Janeiro. I had hoped to squeeze in one last trip in the final weeks of my pregnancy but the combined opposition of my doctor and my family led me to the very difficult decision to stay home.

I feel like I have three babies, my three-year-old daughter, the child I am carrying and the FEI. The FEI is definitely the least fragile of the three. In fact, I have to admit that it has been a little disheartening to hear so many people assure me that the General Assembly will do just fine without me — especially since I know it’s true!

I want to thank all of the people who have worked so hard to ensure the success of our GA, especially the members of the Organising Committee; Luiz Roberto Giugni and Luiz Rocco at the Brazilian Equestrian Federation; our friends at the Brazilian National Olympic Committee; and, of course, our FEI staff, the Executive Board and the Bureau.

I also want to express my gratitude to my colleagues on the International Olympic Committee — two influential leaders in global sport —Joao Havelange, the dean of the IOC, and Carlos Nuzman.

A lot has happened since we last met in Taipei. It has been a good year for the FEI. We have a beautiful new headquarters. We have a new Secretary General, Ingmar de Vos, who is doing a great job. We have an athlete on the Executive Board, Kevin Staut. And we have another representative from equestrian sport on the International Olympic Committee, Gerry Werthein of Argentina.

We also have a lot to look forward to. As you know, we are in the final countdown to the 2012 London Games and the 100th anniversary of equestrian sport’s debut on the Olympic programme. Preparations at Greenwich Park are moving along well.

Equestrian sport will be on centre stage in London, and I am confident that we will show a global audience the very best we have to offer. It is imperative that we match our clean record at the World Equestrian Games and the recent Pan American Games and have no positive results on prohibited substances.

It is the FEI’s job to protect you — the National Federations — by establishing clear guidelines and a clear process. I believe we have done that. It is your job to protect the athletes by making sure they and their team vets know what is appropriate and what is not. And please, please, contact the FEI if there is any confusion or if you have questions.

You have a lot to cover today, so I will just touch on a few initiatives that I believe will greatly assist our National Federations.

We have made significant progress with FEI Solidarity. I urge all of you to look for ways to take advantage of this new programme.

We are also making good progress on issues related to transportation and quarantine. We have had some very productive regional meetings to highlight region-specific problems, and we have been working closely with the OIE.

Finally, I urge all of you to participate in the FEI Sport Forum in Lausanne next April. In addition to the rules review that will occur at all Sport Forums, next year’s gathering will include a review of issues specific to the 2012 Games. I believe you will find it useful.

One last thing…I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking you again for the great honour you bestowed on me a year ago.

I am proud to represent you and the sport we love. Together, we can ensure that as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of equestrian sport in the Olympic Movement, the FEI is worthy of its proud past and well prepared for the next century.

Thank you.