By Emily Goddard

The FEI's Endurance Strategic Planning Group is calling on National Federations to approve it proposals, bought in to deal with the discipline's doping and horse welfare issues ©AFP/Getty ImagesNovember 25 - The International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) is urging National Federations to rapidly approve a series of proposed recommendations aimed at tackling doping and horse welfare issues within the discipline.

The body has laid out 37 proposals in a seven-page consultation document grouped into the four categories of Foundation for Growth, Culture and Behaviour, Structure and Governance, and Communications and Marketing.

While the Culture and Behaviour section calls on the Federations to "provide leadership and drive culture change in anti-doping and horse welfare", Structure and Governance has the highest number of proposed actions - 12 in the immediate action category and three for the longer-term, including out of competition testing, a review of disciplinary procedures for athletes, trainers and officials and severe penalties for transgressors.

It also highlights plans to implement a register and ranking list for trainers, a medication and treatment logbook for all horses, and a proposal for trainers to become Persons Responsible along with their riders.

The recommendations come after the ESPG's presentation during the FEI General Assembly in Montreux earlier this month and form part of the ongoing consultation process to tackle the long-running crisis, that has even seen the husband of FEI President Princess Haya, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, banned after failed doping tests.

The FEI banned Sheikh Mohammed from riding in endurance races for six months in 2009 after his horse twice failed doping tests ©Getty ImagesThe FEI banned Sheikh Mohammed from riding in endurance races for six months in 2009 after his horse twice failed doping tests ©Getty Images

The body is now urging that "immediate actions be implemented as soon as possible".

"It is our hope that all National Federations will accept our final proposals, take ownership of the plan and, together with the FEI, provide the leadership we believe is necessary for it to succeed," ESPG chair Andrew Finding says in the document.

"It will not be easy for all to accept, there will be costs to bear for us all but we believe our proposals must be implemented to secure the long term sustainability of the sport.

"Success in implementing these proposals depends on the willingness of everyone involved in the sport to be self-disciplined and to take personal responsibility.

"Apply these values of clean sport, welfare, integrity and partnership and we live and work together.

"If you do not subscribe to them, our message is, simply, leave us.

"Failure is not an option.

"We believe there is a bright future for the sport.

"Together we must grasp it and move on with a determination that we should never again have to face these challenges."

Feedback from the National Federations will feature in a final set of proposals, to be debated at the Endurance Conference, at which National Federations can set Key Performance Indicators, in Lausanne on February 9 next year.

A special session on the discipline will also be included in the FEI Sports Forum, on April 28 and 29, when the National Governing Bodies will be asked to support the final strategy before the FEI Bureau approves it in May 2014.

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