Hailey, Idaho – August 21, 2020 – Robert ‘Bob’ McDonald, the husband of U.S. Technical Advisor of Dressage and chef d’équipe, Debbie McDonald, has officially been removed from the U.S. Center of SafeSport’s Sanction List, effective Aug. 21, 2020. The removal came after his request for independent arbitration to the permanent ban ruling which became effective June 10.
McDonald, 73, of Hailey, Idaho, initially received a permanent ban after a 47-year-old allegation surfaced with the U.S. Center for SafeSport. McDonald categorically denied any wrongdoing and filed an appeal through his attorney to have the case reviewed.
In a statement he released, McDonald explained, “Last week I provided additional information to SafeSport in advance of my arbitration hearing that was scheduled to take place in October 2020. On Thursday, Aug. 20, I received an email statement announcing all sanctions had been lifted, my name had been removed and my case closed. The accusations are false. They have always been false and are now proven false. My family and I are relieved to have these accusations behind us. To all of you that emailed and spoke up on my behalf, I can not thank you enough.”
“It is beyond heartbreaking to see the reputation that I have painstakingly built throughout my career be tarnished by an allegation of misconduct from 47 years ago,” McDonald said in his statement from June 12. “Even more gut-wrenching is watching my loved ones being dragged through this as well. It is a terrible reality that we are living in a time when allegations alone would lead to the imposition of such a harsh public sanction. Unfortunately, the system in place does not allow for individuals to be given the opportunity to effectively defend any of the allegations prior to a ban. While it is paramount for the sport to have a thoughtful and thorough avenue for our riders and trainers to address complaints and areas of concern, it is of equal importance that the process be fair and balanced.”
Officials from the the United States Equestrian Federation respond to the new ruling in this case and confirmed that McDonald has been fully reinstated into equestrian sport, where he has had a 50 (+) year career as a coach to athletes, several of whom have gone on to achieve prominent results on behalf of the United States in international competition including World Cup Finals and Olympic Games.
PS Dressage reached out to the U.S. Center for SafeSport for a comment, but they did not return communication. This story will be updated as more facts and comments become available.