Modern pentathlon’s governing body has secretly voted to remove horse riding from the sport and replace it with cycling, multiple sources have told the Guardian.
The decision, which is said to have been taken by the UIPM’s executive board in recent days, was hastened by the distressing scenes at the Tokyo Olympics when a horse was punched by a German coach after refusing to jump a fence.
Those pictures made global headlines and the UIPM is understood to have acted in order to preserve its status as an Olympic sport ahead of Paris 2024. The sport, which has been a core Olympic event since 1912 despite attempts to remove it, consists of fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping and a combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running.
The UIPM refused to comment when asked about the story by the Guardian. However it in a statement it said: “As part of UIPM’s commitment to maintaining a strong, dynamic profile for modern pentathlon, a series of strategic meetings are being held. These meetings will include an upcoming call with national federations later this week. The outcome of these meetings will be detailed in a press release to be published on 4 November.”
The former British modern pentathlete, Kate Allenby, who won a bronze for Team GB at the Sydney Olympics, told the Guardian any move to replace riding would be a “disaster” for the sport.
“This needs talking about because it’s not modern pentathlon if it hasn’t got riding in it,” she added.
The UIPM is understood to have acted after the sport was heavily criticised in Tokyo. The German competitor Annika Schleu, who had been in the gold-medal position before the showjumping, was seen in tears after her ride, Saint Boy, refused to jump over the obstacles.
The German coach Kim Raisner, who was seen punching Saint Boy, was sent home from Tokyo and the UIPM promised to conduct a full review as well as disciplining Raisner.
In a statement in August, the UIPM said: “Horse welfare and athlete safety will be at the centre of this process and the UIPM 2021 congress in November will provide an opportunity for UIPM’s national member federations to participate in a collective effort to secure the future of riding in modern pentathlon.”
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