Gladstone, NJOctober 26, 2001In response to the press release issued by the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) on October 25, United States Equestrian Team (USET) President Dr. Armand Leone, Jr. has issued the following statement:
I believe that Mr. Balch has once again failed to clearly and fairly state the position of the USET Board of Trustees. On October 24, the Trustees, after long and significant discussion, voted on two motions. The first one was to authorize continued discussions with the AHSA without withdrawal of a pending motion in Mr. Balch's New Jersey lawsuit; this did not pass by a vote of 12 in favor and 16 opposed. The second motion was to authorize discussion with Mr. Balch provided the New Jersey lawsuit motion was withdrawn. This motion was passed unanimously by the Board, including by Mr. Balch who was a voting trustee on the call and did not object or abstain. Clearly there was a sense of cooperation and hope for settlement from the USET Trustees.
It is important to understand that the lawsuit filed by Mr. Balch was a personal lawsuit designed to derail the proceedings before the USOC. Now that the USOC Hearing Panel has concluded its proceedings, there is no reason for Mr. Balch not to have withdrawn his motion in the lawsuit which is over. The USET simply cannot continue to have discussions with an individual who professes to good faith negotiations on behalf of his organization while pressing on with personal litigation at the same time.
Furthermore, yesterday's assertion that the USOC challenge began all 'this litigation in the first place' ignores the fact that, prior to the filing of the challenge, the AHSA told the USOC in writing that they were prepared to immediately assume all responsibilities previously held by the USET. It was only after this attempt to strip the USET of all its duties and responsibilities that the challenge was filed.
Mr. Balch's actions, and the controversies that continue to plague him as President of the AHSA on so many fronts, should send a clear message to the equestrian community and the AHSA Membership especially. If Mr. Balch truly has the sport's interest at heart, he would have honored the USET Board's request and withdrawn the motion currently pending so that negotiations based on trust could continue."
The USOC Board of Directors will receive the Hearing Panels decision regarding the NGB status for Equestrian shortly so that they may confirm the decision. The parties will be made aware of the Hearing Panels decision at that time.
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