The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has prohibited world No. 1 and Olympic gold winner Jessica von Bredow-Werndl from returning to competition a month after the delivery of her second child.
In August, Jessica gave birth to a girl.
Jessica’s records in the FEI database have the following notation: “Not competing from 18/04/2022 to 18/10/2022.” That would include the time from when she won the World Cup in Leipzig, Germany, until October 18.
According to Jessica, even though she was willing to sacrifice points, the FEI informed her that she could not terminate her maternity leave earlier, if she wanted to keep half of the points she had earned before going on leave.
Because a judgement would probably not be made in time for the Ludwigsburg tournament, which ran from September 22 to 25, she decided against appealing to the FEI Tribunal.
FEI’s views VS Jessica von Bredow-Werndl’s
After taking a baby break, she was eager to return to Ludwigsburg, but her participation was denied. “The FEI denied me with a start permit due to its interpretation of the maternity leave laws”, shares Jessica. She applied for maternity leave with the FEI while she was pregnant, so for the time Jessica was away, half of her ranking points were still valid. It is not permitted to begin tournaments during this time, according to the FEI.
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, together with the German federation, doesn’t agree with the FEI’s viewpoint. From Jessica’s and the German federation’s view of the law, the FEI must offer at least six months of maternity leave to female athletes who request it. However, it is not required that athletes take six-month pauses. Therefore, it should be okay for female athletes to return from maternity leave early. Receiving the remaining points from the prior payment period expires the month they start over.
“The regulation’s goal is to ensure that the athletes won’t suffer from a health-related layoff. They simply need to be safeguarded for the length of the condition. The best people to judge how long this should last are the doctors. Having read the rules, I would have predicted that starting in Ludwigsburg would result in losing the pertinent ranking points. Given the FEI’s wording, I believe it blatantly unreasonable that I’m not even permitted to begin right away”, comments Jessica on the situation.
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl is very disappointed that she is unable to get her horses to the starting line, and she regrets having to withdraw her participation (also nationally). She hopes that the restrictions will be changed in the future (for her colleagues).
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