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Saturday, August 21, 2004
Appeal gives United States bronze finish

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- France was awarded the gold medal in the three-day equestrian team event and Britain's Leslie Law got the individual gold after three countries won a joint appeal against an earlier decision that gave both victories to Germany.

The ruling Saturday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport means Germany drops to fourth in the team event while Britain gets silver and the United States takes the bronze.

Since the team event was also a qualifier for the individual medals, the decision stripped Bettina Hoy of her gold medal, giving it to Law. American Kim Severson moved up to silver from bronze and Pippa Funnell of Britain took third.

"We have to accept that decision, but it's too much to take,'' Reinhardt Wendt, the leader of Germany's equestrian team, said.

In an official statement, CAS said it decided that the judges' decision to impose a time penalty on Hoy "was of a purely factual nature, falling within its exclusive jurisdiction.''

CAS said the judges' decision shouldn't have been reversed by the International Equestrian Federation because the body had no right to do so.

The decision cannot not be appealed.

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

But the same officials, concerned that 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.

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

"It was a shame we had to go to CAS. The eventing world is a close community,'' said Will Connell, team leader for the British three-day event team.

"I had sympathy for Bettina, but at the end of the day she made a silly mistake.''

The appeal submitted by the three countries to CAS challenged whether the equestrian appeal committee had the jurisdiction to overturn the judges' decision.

Henri Serandour, head of the French Olympic Committee, said he was happy with the result but refused to act jubilant.

"From the beginning, I asked for an appeal not to create controversy but to get to the truth, to find out why an appeals committee was allowed to change the ruling of a ground jury,'' he said.

"CAS has upheld the judges in their capacity. I am always happy when the rule is respected. I am also happy for the riders, who displayed an exemplary attitude.''

The CAS panel assigned to hear the case was chaired by South African judge Deon van Zyl. Other members included Canada's Richard McLaren and Pandelis Dedes of Greece.