‘Devastated’ Lynch considering appeal against Olympic omission

A “devastated” and distraught Denis Lynch last night said he is considering an appeal against the decision yesterday by Horse Sport Ireland to withdraw his nomination for the Olympics.

However, he said “although we have the right to appeal the decision... we have been informed no appeal process is in place”, which he described as “very unusual”.

However, last night, HSI said any appeal must go through the Olympic Council of Ireland. A spokesman said: “Our business is now complete.”

HSI’s decision to withdraw Lynch’s nomination came after a meeting yesterday with Lynch and the HSI/Olympic Council of Ireland Monitoring Group, following the disqualification from competition of his top horse, Lantinus, at Aachen, Germany, on Friday morning, after vets deemed the gelding's legs were hypersensitive.

In a lengthy statement issued last night, Lynch reiterated “that at no stage, was there any inference from the FEI veterinary commission that the hypersensitivity was anything other than natural occurring.”

The disqualification was the third time for a horse ridden by Lynch to come under the spotlight in terms of hypersensitivity in the past 12 months. As a result he was required to attend yesterday’s meeting under Article 2.8 of the HSI Olympic selection criteria, which states HSI must be satisfied selected riders “will not bring the sport into disrepute”.

If the group is not satisfied with the explanation provided or commitments given by the athlete, they can deem the athlete ineligible for selection.

Lynch confirmed that he, his manager and lawyer were informed the monitoring group “were not satisfied with the explanation provided”, resulting in the withdrawal of his nomination.

This he described as “baffling”, as he had “provided a full explanation for everything that was asked... and no question was left unanswered”.

The Tipperary rider also claimed pressure was exerted on him in Aachen to compete in the nations cup with Lantinus, despite a cut and an abrasion having been identified on the gelding.

He also said the independence of the monitoring group was a “concern”, as it comprised Ireland team vet Marcus Swail, the vet who was part of the decision-making process to compete Lantinus.

He also revealed that his participation in the nations cup in Falsterbo, Sweden, this week was withdrawn by Ireland manager Robert Splaine.

Splaine did not return calls last night.

German-based Lynch also said public perception was raised at yesterday’s meeting, but said: “Well, when no effort is made by the governing body to clarify matters when such an instance occurs, then naturally public perception will be suspicious, in my opinion.” However, he vowed to “return stronger from the experience”.

Coming on the back of Lynch’s disqualification from the 2008 Olympics in China, it is hard to see how he can maintain his public credibility and questions are being raised as to whether his main horse owner, Swiss industrialist Thomas Straumann, will maintain his support following this latest saga to beset Irish show jumping.

The HSI said it hopes to announce Lynch's replacement in the next 24 hours, with Cian O'Connor or Cork's US-based Shane Sweetnam the main contenders. Ireland manager Splaine will make the selection.

An OCI spokesman said it was awaiting confirmation of Lynch’s replacement.

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