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Balch Continues to Undermine USET Service to Equestrian Athletes

Gladstone, NJ—January 13, 2003—USA Equestrian (USAE) President Alan F. Balch, in another in a continuing series of steps designed to deflect attention from his organization’s being out of compliance with the requirements of a National Governing Body (NGB), has forced a delay in action by the United States Equestrian Team (USET) to approve and implement programs for 2003.

USET President Dr. Armand Leone, Jr. received a letter from Balch on Sunday afternoon, January 12, demanding that the USET not hold its annual membership and Board of Trustees meetings scheduled for Monday morning, January 13. He claimed that the USET did not have a valid Board to call these meetings based on a ruling by a New Jersey Court on Friday, January 10, that all actions, including election of a Board of Trustees, at its October, 2001 annual meeting were null and void.

Rather than give Balch an opportunity to initiate further unnecessary and wasteful litigation, the USET immediately adjourned both meetings on January 13 without taking any action.

“This is yet another example of Alan Balch throwing up smokescreens to divert attention from the real issue, namely USAE’s lack of compliance with the requirements of being an NGB,” said Leone.

“The New Jersey Court did rule our October, 2001 meeting invalid based on a technical requirement, but everything connected with that meeting, as with all our meetings, was completely above board,” Leone continued. “To slow service to our sport’s athletes is a shame, but rather than put the USET in a position of having to face further litigation from Alan Balch, we thought it more prudent to defer any actions scheduled to be conducted at these meetings to a later time pending further evaluation of the judge’s opinion.

“Meanwhile, the USET calls upon the Board of USAE to end its support of Alan Balch and his disruptive actions as cited by the U.S. Olympic Committee in its letter of December 23, 2002. Only then can we end this ridiculous waste of resources that is hurting our sport.”

In its letter to USAE Executive Director Lori Rawls on December 23, 2002, the USOC said that it was, “Concerned about a failure by USAE to acknowledge its obligations as an NGB, a lack of candor and cooperation by USAE leadership in its oral and written submissions to the Committee, and USAE’s efforts to disrupt, rather than further, the efforts of the Committee to conduct its compliance review.”

The letter also said that, “Rather than accept questions and positions taken by others as opportunities to move the sport forward, USAE’s behavior has been destructive and has often been mean spirited, contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement.”

Leone said that Balch’s actions related to the USET meetings underscored two further points made in the USOC letter, namely that, “A primary focus of USAE’s response was to attack USET,” and that, “USAE has become so consumed with issues of turf, power, control and winning against USET at all costs that it has ceased to conduct USAE in the best interests of the sport of equestrian, the United States athletes who compete in sport of equestrian, or the Olympic movement in the United States.”

Leone urged the USAE Board of Directors to listen to the call of the USOC that “USAE leadership has lost all perspective concerning the situation and needs to step back and reconsider its current and ongoing course of conduct. USAE has wasted its resources, the resources of the USET, the resources of the Committee, and the resources of several offices of the USOC.”

The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible standard to represent our country in major international competition, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented athletes - riders, drivers and horses - and provides the support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest potential. For more information on the USET, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at


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