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Olympics-Equestrian federation joins SportAccord's growing exodus

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By Karolos Grohmann

May 21 (Reuters) - The international equestrian federation (FEI) cut ties with SportAccord on Thursday, the latest federation to walkout after its president sharply criticised the International Olympic Committee.

Some 15 Olympic federations have already withdrawn their membership from the umbrella organisation, representing about 100 Olympic and non-Olympic sports bodies, after President Marius Vizer's criticism of the IOC last month.

"The FEI, alongside many other international sports federations...will seek full clarity regarding SportAccord's role and mission, including a review of SportAccord's governance and management," FEI President Ingmar De Vos said in a statement on Thursday.

Vizer told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday he had proposed a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach to clear the air and said the withdrawals were the result of pressure from the IOC on the federations.

"I had expected more solidarity from international federations, specifically from summer Olympics federations, because I spoke out in the favour of the sport," Vizer said.

"I did not attack Bach or the IOC. But it is up to the federations to decide what they consider the best for their situation and their sports community."

Bach, however, said in a written response seen by Reuters that he would first have to consult his executive board as well as other stakeholders before committing to such a meeting. The executive board next meets in Lausanne in June.

But time is of the essence for Vizer as the membership suspensions mount and pressure on the international judo president grows exponentially.

On Wednesday, the international rowing federation as well as modern pentathlon and volleyball pulled out.

Since Vizer's scathing attack on the IOC, where he claimed the Olympic body was dated, not transparent enough and blocking new initiatives, a string of federations have pulled out.

These already include athletics, boxing, archery, triathlon, taekwondo, wrestling, shooting, canoeing, hockey, bobsleigh and weightlifting.

Several sports have also pulled out of the 2017 World Combat Games organised by SportAccord, leaving the event with just two of the initial six Olympic sports along with 10 other non-Olympic sports. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Julian Linden)

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