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Germany loses equestrian titles

• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Germany has been stripped of the two gold medals it won in Wednesday's equestrian three-day eventing competition in a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

France and Britain had appealed the results, claiming that Germany's Bettina Hoy should have suffered time penalties for crossing the starting line twice.

The decision hands the gold medal to France, with Britain taking silver and the United States earning a bronze medal.

"Justice has been done. We have the feeling that the same rules apply to everybody," said French rider Nicolas Touzaint.

"It's a brilliant gold medal, but unfortunately there will be no Marseillaise, no podium, no lap of honor."

Hoy also loses her individual gold medal, which now goes to Britain's Leslie Law. American Kimberly Severson takes silver and Briton Pippa Funnell gets the bronze.

"It was a shame we had to go to CAS. The eventing world is a close community," said Will Connell, team leader for the British three-day event team.

"I had sympathy for Bettina, but at the end of the day she made a silly mistake."

Officials had originally imposed a 12-point penalty on the German team after viewing video evidence in response to a French appeal.

That dropped Germany to fourth place, but they were reinstated after an appeal of their own.

The French Olympic Committee said: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport ... has overturned the decision of the appeals panel of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) which gave the Olympic title to the German team.

"In effect, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in accordance with the rules of the FEI, ruled that the appeals panel was not empowered to revise the decision of the arena stewards concerning the 14-second penalty given to the German rider Bettina Hoy."

Reinhard Wendt, head of the German equestrian team was very disappointed. He said: "For a rider this is worse than a catastrophe but we must accept the decision. All I want to do now is stand in the corner and cry."

There was some consolation for the German equestrian team on Saturday as they won the team dressage event for the sixth time in a row, thanks in large part to a superb ride by Ulla Salzgeber, who also leads the individual standings.

Spain took the silver and the United States won bronze.

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