Top Canadian show jumping executive quits, claims he was forced out

Mark Laskin has resigned as chef d'equipe of the Canadian show jumping team and says he's been forced out. Laskin has been the show jumping team's chef d'equipe since 2012, which was a role included in his position of Equestrian Canada technical advisor.

Mark Laskin served as chef d'equipe since 2012, helped Eric Lamaze win 2016 bronze

A horse for Canada is seen above at the 2019 Nations Cup. Mark Laskin, who was the chef d'equipe of the Canadian show jumping team and an Equestrian Canada technical advisor, resigned on Tuesday, claiming he was forced out. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images for FEI)

Mark Laskin has resigned as chef d'equipe of the Canadian show jumping team and says he's been forced out.

Laskin has been the show jumping team's chef d'equipe since 2012, which was a role included in his position of Equestrian Canada technical advisor.

The 64-year-old from Edmonton oversaw the team at Olympic and Pan American Games, as well as Nations' Cup team competitions during that time.

Eric Lamaze won an individual Olympic bronze medal in 2016 and the Canadian team narrowly missed the podium in a jump-off for bronze in Rio.

Laskin has worked without a contract for seven months, he said Tuesday in a statement.

"I was told during the first week of April that a contract would be forthcoming," Laskin said in the statement. "Seven months later, the contract promised to me still hasn't been delivered."

Equestrian Canada recently undertook a review of Laskin's job, he said, and it was led by EC director of high performance James Hood.

"I now find myself in a position where James Hood has told me that EC is doing a review of the role and will be compiling a job description and putting it out to tender," Laskin said in the statement.

"Almost as an afterthought, he added that I would be welcome to apply. This is EC's version of a succession plan."

Program under review

After two Olympic cycles, internal stakeholders and funders of the high-performance equestrian system recommended in 2020 during planning for Tokyo's Olympic Games a review of technical advisor roles, Equestrian Canada told The Canadian Press in an email.

"Mark Laskin's contract was in extension, and he agreed to remain in the role during the process and his input and expertise were sought," EC wrote.

"Mr. Laskin resigned from his position prior to the publication of the leadership review post Tokyo, the completion of the job description, and the move into the hiring process.

"The job description and skills competency are in final review to be completed this week with a target hiring to occur by January 1, 2022."

'Sad to be resigning'

Laskin also cited interference in the selection of Nations' Cup athletes by Equestrian Canada's leadership group as a reason for leaving.

"The leaders at our national federation need to have understanding and experience with our sport," he said in his statement.

"Unfortunately, Equestrian Canada has had many people in leadership positions that have no background in the equestrian field. That depth of understanding is integral to any future success of the organization. Equestrian Canada's leadership group are making decisions that aren't congruent with my philosophy.

"It is my opinion that the high-performance program has been adversely affected and will continue to be in the future with the current leadership group at the helm.

"Consequently, I felt that I had no choice but to step down.

"I feel very sad to be resigning," he continued. "The management of an international team is a complex task that requires the full support and understanding of the National Sport Organization, and that has not always been the case recently."

External firm conducted interviews

The review of Laskin's job was assigned to an external firm that conducted interviews with Laskin, athletes, horse owners, high-performance committee members and jumping discipline experts, Equestrian Canada said.

"The assessment has been completed with the support, advisement and knowledge of both Mr. Laskin and the jumping committee with a goal of setting up Canada's high-performance athletes for success in the lead up to Paris 2024 and LA 2028," the organization said.

"EC remains deeply committed to strengthening the Canadian jumping team with a goal of being competitive on the world stage and having a strong showing in Paris and LA."

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