• Report: #1001817

Complaint Review: United States Equestrian Federation

  • Submitted: Wed, January 23, 2013
  • Updated: Wed, January 23, 2013

  • Reported By: Elizabeth Mandarino — BEDMINSTER New Jersey United States of America
United States Equestrian Federation
4047 Iron Works Parkway Lexington, Kentucky United States of America

United States Equestrian Federation Sonja Keating, In house General Counsel, John Long, CEO, Chrystine Tauber, 2013 President, David O'Connor, 2012 USEF President, USEF Preserve our due process rights as USEF Members under the USOC Rules and Regulations and the Ted Stevens Act. Lexington , Kentucky

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The United States Equestrian Federation ("USEF") has and continues to claim that it has the right to temporarily suspend its members. The USEF imposing temporary suspensions without a hearing is a major violation of United State Olympic Committee's ("USOC") Rules regarding being a National Governing Body ("NGB"), as well as the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act ("TSOASA"). The USEF has failed to change their rules on temporary suspensions and continues to maintain the right to temporarily suspend individuals. 

In a 2005 memo (see attached) from the CEO of USOC, Jim Scherr, informed the USOC and NGB council members that under the Basic Standards and Governance Guideline the USOC Board has approved the following:  .... "NGBs must comply with all of the requirements for membership as defined in the TSOASA, USOC Bylaws, and any USOC Board policies."  Due process rights are included under these governance documents. [continued below]....

The USEF nor any of its members may deny or threaten to deny any member the opportunity to compete in protected competitions as defined by the USOC Bylaws without a hearing.  A protected competition is defined as any domestic amateur athletic competition or event organized and conducted by an NGB of the USOC. This was supported in the 2008 USOC arbitration involving Salk vs. U.S. Sailing.

Under the USEF General Rules, the USOC Bylaws, the USOC Due Process Checklist and the TSOASA, , any athlete, coach, trainer, manager or administrator is entitled to fair notice, due process and a hearing.  Under the above, any USEF registered horse or pony is also considered an athlete. 
The right to due process is a god given right in this country as part of the United States Constitution. Any NGB's existence is about a member's right to compete. Amber Hill Farm's ("AHF") horses /ponies, myself and by extension my daughter was denied the fundamental right to compete and of due process when I, as an athlete under the TSOASA and AHF's animals, also considered athletes under the TSOASA, were temporarily suspended without a hearing.  

Obviously untill this rule is changed the USEF is and continues to be in violation of the USOC Rules and should be subject to or placed on probation or replaced as an NGB.  The USOC is quasi governmental, their NGB's represent us as a nation and it was created by and its rights were granted to it by an Act of Congress. 

With all due respect, your CEO, Mr. Long and your in house counsel, Ms. Keating actively and knowingly violated this very important obligation as an NGB and continue to do so. Other counsel has proffered this information to them so they are well aware of the above. Until the USEF changes this rule, the violation is ongoing. No statute of limitation applies. 

Clearly, Mr. Long and Ms. Keating have not acted in the best interest of the sport by wrongly issuing a temporary suspension, assisting proponents against another USEF member and by issuing false statements to the New York Times. 

Please see the attached email correspondence between one of my attorneys and Ms. Keating regarding the false statements to the New York Times. I cooperated fully with the USEF above and beyond what was required. In addition, the USEF had access to all of my animals at Devon after we were excused by show management and could have pulled blood and urine on them and chose not to do so. Please also note, even though requested numerous times, a steward never arrived and took a proper report. A necropsy and toxicology were performed by New Bolton, one of the most respected clinics in the nation, which cleared me of any wrongdoing.  Any statements stating I did not cooperate fully are false and defamatory and I reserve my right in relation. Also, please refer to my attached affidavit sent to the NY Times in response to misrepresentations therein. I have supplied them with supporting documentation for each sworn statement. 

In addition, months earlier, at the time Mr. Long lifted the wrongly imposed temporary suspension he stated to another news organization that "we [the USEF in their investigation] have not discovered anything that would lead us to believe that this could be adjudicated in the hearing process". This is in direct conflict to Mr. Long's statement issued to the New York Times.

Further supporting the above statement, the USEF did not join Ms. William's protest but instead, Ms. Keating, USEF's in house counsel, represented the proponent by dispensing legal advice to the proponent against me. By doing so, Ms. Keating was representing the USEF and Ms. William's simultaneously against another USEF member, a clear conflict of interest. Ms. Keating's attempts failed as you can not prove guilt of an innocent party. Please see attached transcript whereby Mr. Danford, USEF's outside counsel, attempts to have sworn testimony in relation to Ms. Keating, stricken from the record. 

I urge each one of you to read this transcript to get a first hand glimpse at this sham hearing that was allowed to take place. Please note, Ms. Keating and Mr.Long  could have "squashed" the protest but not only chose to allow this fiasco to go forward but encouraged and dispensed legal advise to the proponent,the result of which resulted in false public outrage against me and AHF which continues to this day with death threats and harassing calls and emails which have all been memorialized by my attorneys. 

It is important to note that one of my attorneys is also awaiting an affidavit from an outside party, unrelated to the above protest, in regard to contact from Ms. Keating concerning AHF. 

It is also important to note that counsel representing AHF has an open dialogue with both the USOC and the New York Times regarding the false statements and unsportsmanlike behavior of Ms. Keating and Mr. Long and will continue to do so until these matters are resolved to our satisfaction.

As an aside, my daughter had been healing in relation to the death of our beloved pony and the New York Times article, six months after the fact, along with its falsehoods, mainly prompted by Ms. Keating and Mr. Long false statement about my lack of cooperation, have caused severe emotional distress and she is now experiencing panic attacks as a result, something she has never experienced before. 

A member has yet to challenge the temporary suspension provision of the USEF Rules and Regulations but the time has come.  Due process must be afforded to all athletes and the USEF may not be the judge, jury and executioner and be allowed to temporarily suspend a member athlete without a hearing.  The temporary suspension rule must be rescinded and retribution made for my wrongly imposed suspension and violation of my due process rights.

My husband and I have been urging the USEF to meet with us for months and they have ignored our attempts to resolve this amicably and have refused to meet with us. I urge the Board to take this letter and attachments under strict advisement as you are being led astray by Ms. Keating and Mr. Long, as they are not acting in the best interest of the sport or the Federation. 

The USEF, while they want you to believe otherwise, has broad investigative powers when they bring law enforcement into deaths of animals on show grounds. Any false statements made during the USEF Annual Meeting and subsequently reported in relation to the death of my beloved pony are disputed.

Ms. Tauber, our USEF President, through Ms. Keating, our USEF In House General Counsel refuses to meet about pressing issues in relation to our sport and in relation to all USEF Members. If GR609 is not changed to be in accordance with USOC governances, USEF Members livelihoods continue to be at risk. Also, my proposal for necropsy/toxicology requirements for ALL animal deaths at USEF sanctioned competitions MUST be addressed. Out of the 16 animals that died at USEF competitions last year, only one was front and center on the internet and in the press. Please join my cause, sign my petition and do not be afraid of the upper management of the USEF any longer. 

Please read and support my cause to preserve our due process rights as USEF members and force the USEF to remove General Rule 609  which, against USOC Rules and the Ted Steven Act gives the USEF the authority to Temporarily Suspend a USEF member WITHOUT a hearing by signing my petition at Change.org. 

Please sign our petition and read the supporting documents at 

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/23/2013 09:41 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/United-States-Equestrian-Federation/Lexington-Kentucky-40511/United-States-Equestrian-Federation-Sonja-Keating-In-house-General-Counsel-John-Long-C-1001817. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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