Rider wants answers after appeal dismissed
|Rider wants answers after appeal dismissed - 10th Jul 2012|
|Shunned equestrian rider Hayley Beresford, who had alleged ''blatant bias [and] double standards within team management'' cost her an Olympic berth, wants her case examined further after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed her appeal.|
With a higher world ranking than two of the three members of Australia's London-bound dressage team that was announced on Saturday, Beresford — Australia's best-performing dressage rider in Beijing in 2008 but now a team reserve — has asked that the Australian Olympic Committee investigate Equestrian Australia's selection process, which was altered to her disadvantage.
Speaking to The Age from Germany, where she defeated cousins Lyndal and Kristy Oatley — granddaughters of billionaire Bob Oatley, owner of Wild Oats XI and sponsor of Australian equestrian events — at a major grand prix, Beresford described ''a terrible, terrible atmosphere within the team'' and demanded answers.
''I'm very sorry that one rider would have to be challenged and removed, but I think the goal is for Australia to send the best team and I know I want an explanation, as do the owners of my horse and sponsors, as do I think the Australian equestrian community,'' she said.
''We just need an explanation — what have I done wrong, because it's not my performances. Along the way the selection process has been changed, and I'm all for a slight bend if it means improving the quality of the team that is to go, but I think there has to be fair grounds.
''We have worked for a very long time to qualify and reach the point of the Olympic standard. It's two years of planning with this particular horse. And everybody has worked hard but somebody did come in last minute [Kristy Oatley] and she is a very good rider, but she did not outride me. Two riders [Kristy Oatley and Mary Hanna] have clearly not outridden me. They are good riders, I'm not disputing that, but I don't believe they will do a better job than I will in London. I want answers from the federation ... I really, really need to have an answer.''
Australian Olympic Committee media boss Mike Tancred said yesterday: ''An independent tribunal sat and was chaired by independent arbiters. Their decision is final.
''Hayley Beresford was not denied natural justice. There was no error in law ...these people are judges and QCs. They didn't find that.''
Beresford claims the selection process was altered to favour Kristy Oatley, who was added to the shadow Olympic team after it had been finalised despite not having competed for nearly two years. Beresford said she did not fully understand the Court of Arbitration for Sport's findings from its sitting in Sydney on Friday that she phoned into from Europe.
The CAS has not yet published its findings. One of the initial reasons Equestrian Australia cited for not selecting Beresford, who is ranked 106th in the world compared to Kristy Oatley, 173rd, Mary Hanna, 112th, and Lyndal Oatley, 94th, was that Kristy Oatley and Hanna had more Olympic experience.
''I was absolutely offended and disgusted by that because in Beijing I was the best Australian rider,'' Beresford told The Age.
''Kristy was there with me, we were teammates, and I was the highest-placed Australian rider.''
At age 57, Hanna — the wife of Rob Hanna, Equestrian Australia chef d'equipe — has been picked for her fourth Olympics but Beresford said: ''I think experience should be measured in a current form, not in how old you are.
''A second reason [given by Equestrian Australia] was that Mary had done more competition than me, and that's unacceptable as well. Just because she's done more competition she has not necessarily had higher performances. Mary has never had as high a performance as Kristy, Lyndal and I. Never.''
Sandy Oatley, the father of Lyndal and the uncle of Kristy, said the women had been ''devastated by the accusations''.
The Oatley family wealth had nothing to do with their selections, he said. Meanwhile, competitors and supporters condemned Equestrian Australia on the federation's Facebook page yesterday. Sarah Yeomans said Equestrian Australia has ''no credibility & assumes its members are voiceless idiots!''
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Courtesy Fairfax Digital, www.smh.com.au and Andrew Stevenson