Paul Estermann was allowed to start for several more years, although the allegations against him have weighed heavily since 2017. The show jumper from Switzerland continued to drag out the investigation into animal cruelty because he went through all the instances. The Swiss Equestrian Federation has now issued a harsh judgment against the 59-year-old – Estermann has been banned for seven years and has to pay 70 daily rates of 160 francs (163 euros) each.

Estermann, who won bronze with the team in 2013 and 2014 and finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics, is said to have whipped one of his horses excessively hard. He is said to have whipped and tortured the animal until it bled. For this he was found guilty last autumn by a court in the canton of Lucerne of multiple intentional cruelty to animals.

Now that this judgment has become final, the Equestrian Federation also sanctioned it. “After examining the files of the criminal proceedings, the Sako (Sanctions Commission, editor’s note) classifies the behavior of the rider as absolutely unacceptable. He intentionally injured a horse moderately and caused him severe pain,” the statement said. The rider had defied the guidelines of the equestrian sport association: “Such behavior not only damages the image of equestrian sport, but also the reputation of the association.”

The association gave Estermann the chance to defend himself in a hearing. However, he did not take this opportunity and stayed away from the hearing. According to the Sanctions Commission, Estermann should not have shown any remorse or insight throughout the process. “The Sako considers the willful, selfish and aggressive behavior of the rider as a blatant disregard for the well-being of the horse,” said Commission President Thomas Räber.

Estermann’s behavior caused a stir at the 2012 Olympic Games. At that time, the former groom of the Swiss Zdenek Dusek confided in the Blick newspaper. “I was told that Paul took his bad temper out on the horses. He sits in the saddle and strikes with the whip. I heard the cracks of the whip for minutes. That hurt me too,” says Dusek. Paul Estermann has two faces: “He basically has a good heart. But if his mood changes, he no longer has respect. Neither in front of humans nor in front of animals.”