Modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020 was rocked by a horse-abuse scandal, which has left the sport's future on the Olympic programme in doubt ©Getty Images

The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) is dropping the riding discipline after Paris 2024 because it fears the sport will be thrown out of the Olympic Games if it does not take immediate action, according to a leaked document.

Modern pentathlon's worldwide governing body, which is considering proposing cycling as riding's replacement, is concerned for its Olympic future, the document seen by insidethegames suggests.

In the briefing notes sent to members of the UIPM Executive Board before it meets tomorrow, the UIPM warned the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would "only accept a proposal without riding" for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic programme, set to be decided in December.

It warned it would be "too late" to discuss the controversial move to axe riding at or after the UIPM Congress, scheduled to be held in Monaco from November 26 to 28, as "our sport could already be off the Olympic programme at that time".

The UIPM claimed it needed to present a solution to the IOC before November 24, prior to the scheduled meeting of the Olympic Programme Commission at the end of the month.

The organisation added that it must "present a new, fresh perspective to the TV audience in order to compete with new sports" at the Games.

It also outlined a list of criteria for the proposed fifth discipline, including being low-cost, easily understandable, minimal injury rates and not falling under "another IOC-recognised Federation's governance", but did not reference cycling directly.

The decision to remove riding, made at a secret meeting in which not every Executive Board member was present, came following the scandal at Tokyo 2020. 

German coach Kim Raisner was sent home following video footage showing her punching Saint-Boy during the riding section in an incident which sparked global headlines.

The UIPM said the IOC would only accept a modern pentathlon proposal without riding ©Getty Images
The UIPM said the IOC would only accept a modern pentathlon proposal without riding ©Getty Images

Several horses refused to jump, including Saint-Boy, ridden by Germany’s Annika Schleu, who was leading the competition before the riding discipline.

The briefing document confirms the scandal at Tokyo 2020 was among the main reasons why the UIPM voted to remove riding.

It cites "more and more increased horse welfare concerns and scrutiny, significantly worsened after Tokyo" as a key motive for the move, the latest in a long line of changes to the modern pentathlon event at the Olympics.

In response to a question in the document which asks "why must we replace riding with a fifth discipline in Olympic Games", the UIPM said: "Because riding horses chosen by random draw, cannot provide a truly fair sport  to our athletes. 

"Over time this issue has created more and more problems for our athletes and sport."

The UIPM set up a working group to investigate horse welfare in modern pentathlon following the scandal at Tokyo 2020.

The 10-strong panel, led by UIPM Technical Committee chairman and Executive Board member Janusz Peciak, the 1976 Olympic gold medallist, had been due to give its recommendations to the Board meeting in Monaco in November prior to the Congress.

Athletes, including Britain's newly-crowned Olympic champion Joe Choong, have reacted with concern at the news.

"It has been a shock to me," Choong told the Daily Mail.

"It is not nice to hear.

"'If it changed to cycling, I wouldn't be in the sport. 

"It would not suit me at all. 

"I am sure a lot of athletes would feel the same."

Olympic champion Joe Choong has criticised the move and suggested he may quit the sport ©Getty Images
Olympic champion Joe Choong has criticised the move and suggested he may quit the sport ©Getty Images

Pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has previously called on the IOC to remove all equestrian events from the Olympics, hailed the decision as an "Olympic-size win for horses and cyclists".

"PETA thanks UIPM for acting swiftly on our recommendation to drop the horse component from the pentathlon and replace it with cycling," the organisation said.

"The world’s attitude toward the exploitation of horses has evolved, and there’s no room for punishing terrified animals in the show ring. 

"PETA looks forward to the new cruelty-free pentathlon."