Obstacle course race set to replace equestrian in modern pentathlon

by Reuters

From the Reuters News Agency

May 2 (Reuters) - Obstacle course racing looks set to be voted in as the replacement for the equestrian element in the modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games from 2028, but an athlete group opposing the move is calling for an investigation into the sport's governance.

The sport's global governing body, the UIPM, said in November it would remove equestrianism from the Los Angeles Games, with a suitable replacement determined by a consultation process. 

That decision came after Germany's modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner struck a horse at the Tokyo Games last year when it refused to jump a fence, an incident that led to widespread criticism of the sport.

Pentathlon United representatives including Britain's Olympic champion Joe Choong wrote to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Sunday asking him to intervene and investigate the UIPM's lack of transparency.

"The UIPM's consultation process has been illusory at best and, it would appear, designed only to legitimise a pre-determined outcome (which we are advised will be obstacle racing in collaboration with World OCR)," the group stated in their letter.

"The IOC was clear in its expectation that athletes must play a central role in the review and consultation process for a fifth discipline. This has not happened," they wrote.

The UIPM, which is set to hold an executive board meeting later on Monday, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Modern pentathlon has been an Olympic sport since 1912 and features five events: fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running.

"We request that the IOC conducts a comprehensive, independent investigation into the standards of governance and probity of the UIPM and the fifth discipline consultation process."

Pentathlon United also said a survey of 310 past and present athletes found that 95% of them were unhappy with the UIPM's decision, while more than 77% said they were unlikely to stay in the sport if the equestrian element were to be removed.

"Athletes have been excluded from the dialogue and their clear preference for the retention and reform of the equestrian element has been ignored," the letter added.