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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Updated: August 21, 6:17 AM ET
Will Germany keep the gold?

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The horses were grinding their grain and team officials their teeth at the Olympic equestrian venue Thursday.

Countries join forces for appeal
ATHENS, Greece -- On Friday, the Olympic committees of France, Britain and the United States went ahead with a joint appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the results of the three-day event that ended Wednesday.

The Germans, French and British finished one-two-three in the competition. But the results were initially overturned by the ground jury of judges, who decided German Bettina Hoy on Ringwood Cockatoo had crossed the start line twice.

That dropped Germany out of the medals and moved the Americans up to bronze. Germany protested to the appeals committee on site, which overruled the judges an hour later and restored the original medal order.
-- Associated Press
Riders and trainers waited for the next step in a rare drama for the polite sport after Germany's riders won the gold medal Wednesday in the three-day team event -- but not before losing it, and then winning it back, in a bizarre flurry of judging decisions and reversals.

France, Britain and the United States -- the three teams caught in the middle of the judges' indecision -- said they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport here to reverse the turnabout that briefly gave the U.S. team the bronze in the equestrian equivalent of the decathlon.

"All three teams have informed the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) of their decision to proceed," the committees said in a joint statement, adding that lawyers would file the appeal in a few days.

Initially, the judges gave Germany the gold and France the silver, while Britain took bronze.

But the same officials, concerned that Germany's Bettina Hoy might have crossed the start line twice on the show jumping course, then docked Germany 14 points, dropping it from first place to fourth with 147.8 points in a decision that lifted the United States to third and the bronze.

Germany then lodged a protest, an equestrian appeals committee reversed the judges' decision -- and the Germans reclaimed their gold. Once again, France was awarded the silver and Britain the bronze. The United States was left empty-handed.

"I want to know why at one moment we were given the gold medal and then they gave us silver," French Olympic committee president Henri Serandour said.

Hoy went on to win the individual three-day gold Wednesday night. Leslie Law of Britain won the silver aboard Shear L'Eau, and America's Kim Severson on Winsome Adante took the bronze.

Meanwhile, the grand prix dressage riders and show jumpers - specialists separate from the three-day team event - prepared for their own events. Dressage begins Friday.

The dressage event is an equine mixture of gymnastics and ballet dancing, performed in an enclosed ring.

Germany has reserved the top of the dressage podium for itself since 1976, while the United States has been more than happy with bronze since 1992. But after they won silver at the 2002 world championships, they've quietly assessed their chances of getting the same, or better, at the Olympics.

But there will be competition from the Netherlands' Anky van Grunsven, who replaced her 2000 gold-winning mount Bonfire with Salinero.

Germany will have Ulla Salzgeber riding Rusty, the individual bronze medalist from Sydney.

The United States will be led by 2003 World Cup gold medalist Debbie McDonald, riding Brentina, and Lisa Wilcox, who rides the German-owned stallion Relevant.