Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Military Stadium (?-Present), Aldershot Military Town
Date Started: August 9, 1948
Date Finished: August 9, 1948
Format: Three rider teams, all three scores to count. Team/individual competitions held concurrently.
This event led to one of the great controversies of the London Olympics. Sweden seemingly won the gold medal by almost 100 points. Olympic equestrian dressage eligibility rules in 1948 required that all competitors be military officers, but after the Games it was discovered that one Swedish team member, Gehnäll Persson, had been promoted from non-commissioned officer to second lieutenant only for the duration of the Olympic Games to allow him to compete. France’s Georges Hector, secretary-general of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), found this out shortly after the Olympics and it was reported to the IOC Session in April 1949. The IOC deferred the matter back to the FEI, who decided to disqualify Persson. The Swedish Olympic Committee reported in December 1949 that they had returned the medals and diplomas won by the Swedish riders.
The irony was that in November 1949, at the FEI Congress, they relaxed the rules for future Olympic Games, allowing civilians, non-commissioned officers, and even women (in some disciplines, including dressage), to compete.
The Swedish team consisted of Persson, Gustaf Adolf Boltenstern, Jr., and Henri Saint Cyr. As a team, they would return in 1952 and win the gold medal, after the eligibility rules were relaxed, and they would win again in 1956 at Melbourne. Thus, save for the disqualification in 1948, this same threesome would have won the team dressage gold medal at three consecutive Olympics.
After the Swedish disqualification, France was promoted to the gold medal, with the United States’ team receiving the silver medals. Bronze went to Portugal, which remains, through 2012, the only medal won by Portugal in Olympic dressage. There were only five teams entered in the competition, with Argentina placing fourth after the Swedish DQ.