The Fédération Equestre Internationale Tribunal has suspended U.S. show jumper Andrew Kocher for 10 years and disqualified him from eight events for using electric spurs on horses. He also has been fined $10,889 and ordered to pay costs of $8,166. Kocher was first investigated in June 2020.
In response to the FEI’s finding, Kocher released the following statement. In brief, his defense is that the electric device was never produced (it was reported as “lost”) and that the FEI’s witnesses testified the device did not belong to him. There was no mention of the photos taken on multiple occasions that show a device in Kocher’s hand.
“The FEI’s primary evidence was a video of a device purportedly owned by me. A video of this all-important piece of evidence was presented to the FEI. The FEI did not even take this evidence into their possession for safekeeping. They allowed the witness to keep possession of the device. When I asked to examine the device, they were unable to produce it for inspection. The FEI’s witnesses testified the device did not even belong to me. It belonged to an employee of the same company that I previously mentioned I had sued. FEI witnesses testified that they used the device when they were training their own horses. Those witnesses, by information and belief, were given immunity from their own admitted actions so long as they testified against me.
“The FEI was unable to produce even one steward or show official that ever saw or witnessed the use of the alleged device. Even more astronomical was the FEI Tribunal’s refusal to allow my legal team to review the evidence firsthand when requested a month before the final hearing. They later chose to allow me an opportunity to inspect the device, after two-thirds of the evidence had been heard, and they offered my counsel one hour to examine the device. This was an offer without any real substance because the FEI knew the device was missing. They learned one month earlier that it had mysteriously disappeared and could not be located.
“Even though the FEI knew the device could not be located, they did not alert the FEI Tribunal. Instead, they allowed the FEI Tribunal and my own legal counsel to waste time fighting over an inspection that they knew full well could not take place as the evidence was missing. Interesting to note however that the FEI witness who testified that she lost the device did swear under oath that ‘I can’t find it, not for this hearing … but it could show up later!’
So, what happened to the shocking device? In a court of law, it’s unlikely that Kocher would have been convicted. However, with so much photographic documentation, it appears that he did use it.
What do you think of the ruling? Fair or foul?