A top official of the European Union (EU) and International Equestrian Federation(FEI) has hit out at the Chinese authorities for refusing to clear five horses of the Indian team thereby stonewalling its participation at the 16th Asian Games. The international federation is even planning to lodge a formal complaint.
Dr Alfred Fuessel, the director-general of the health and consumer affairs, European Union, and the director, Veterinary Commission of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) wrote to Dr Wang Xinwu, head of the AQSIQ (Administration for Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) here, saying India's non-participation is a tragedy for him.
"For me personally, it is a big tragedy that at the Asian Games in China, in the preparation of which indeed the world has invested much more than in any previous Games, one of the great Asian nations cannot participate for a reason that is clearly not Veterinary," he wrote. A copy of the letter is with HT.
"I fully endorse the remarks of Graeme Cook of the FEI, that if there would have been a danger with VEE (Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis) in the Indian quarantine, this would have happened under your Chinese supervision without being reported," Fuessel wrote.
This was in reference to a separate letter sent by Cooke who too protested at the AQSIQ's stand. "The FEI formally protests most strongly at the existing AQSIQ decision and will seek to make a formal complaint if this situation is not rectified in a reasonable manner as per international norms," states Cooke's letter, a copy of which is also with HT.
Only three of the eight horses have been cleared, one in dressage and two in eventing. A statement issued by the team management also alleged discrimination, saying the Indian horses had been subjected to tests for 18 different diseases when horses from other regions had required tests for only six.
"If you refuse the five horses for reasons of a positive HI (haemagglutination inhibition) result for VEE, then you should not admit the remaining three horses either. It is the inconsistency in your decision that makes it less convincing." Fuessel said. "I am not aware that at any stage of our discussion on the access conditions to the Asian Games we had considered VEE as a problem," Fuessel said. VEE is a disease only present and reported in the Americas. It has never occurred nor been reported in south-east Asia. "There is no reason why we should not be cleared," JS Ahluwalia, the Vice-President (Development), EFI, told HT in New Delhi on Saturday.
"Our quarantine was approved by the Chinese authorities, who, including Dr Wang, had come here to check our facilities in Bangalore. They were satisfied and had kept the EU informed."
Some even feel this is a deliberate attempt to keep India out of the Games in dressage, where there were only five teams. "Our team was a gold prospect," Ahluwalia said. He even rubbished that facilities in Bangalore were not up to the mark saying: "There was nothing wrong with the horses as has been reported."
A Chinese delegation had visited the Indian quarantine facilities in Bangalore and testing lab NRCE, Hissar and were satisfied. Some improvements recommended by them for the quarantine, were also implemented. The Chinese veterinary doctors gave a certificate that all horses were healthy and fit to be imported into China.
At a meeting between Chinese delegation, Indian ministry of agriculture officials and the EFI officials on September 18 and it was decided to issue a 'disease-free status' to the horses. The Guangzhou quarantine authority office was closed on Saturday and phone calls went unanswered. Horsing Around