Inside Lines: BOA flex muscles as sports fight right to pick and choose


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The Independent Online

There was a time when the British Olympic Association's main contribution to the Games was booking the plane tickets and ensuring the athletes marched in step at the opening ceremony. But these days the blazers have been discarded and now muscles are being flexed.

The BOA's intervention in refusing to allow British Wrestling to impose their gaggle of grapplers from eastern Europe on 2012 and ordering British Taekwondo tore-think the omission from the Olympic squad of world No 1 welterweight Aaron Cook, who had elected to prepare outside their system, reflects concern over the administration of a number of publicly funded sports as they finalise their Games nominations.

The selection process in fencing, where there have been allegations of favouritism (one of the fencers nominated for a host nation wild-card place, though lowly ranked, is the daughter of a sponsor of the sport) has also been questioned. With appeals and threats of legal action from disaffected competitors and embarrassing spats of mud-slinging it is a scenario Britain could do without.

The most worrying case is that of Cook who seems to have been given the sort of kick in the teeth he is more used to inflicting on opponents. While the BOA's late show of strength is welcome, some of the constituent National Olympic Committee members are sufficiently uneasy to talk of a challenge to reformist chairman Colin Moynihan at the next annual meeting.

22 Yanks at Oxford

The Black Eyed Pea rapper is not the only example of how Olympic sponsors Coca-Cola are using their influence to employ Americans as torch bearers for London's Games. They are flying in 22 more from the United States to light up the streets of Oxford between 9-11 July.

Among those running the relay will be two former Olympians, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer Summer Sanders, but according to these Games' exclusive supplier of soft drinks the majority will be US citizens chosen because of a "commitment to active healthy living... who have shown limitless creativity in helping make a difference around the world."

Just like

Not so fast, Eddie

Eddie Hearn, son of the impresario Barry, is making a name for himself as a quick-off-the-mark boxing promoter. But he was almost a bit too quick last Saturday night when his leap into the Nottingham ring to congratulate Carl Froch on becoming a three-time world super-middleweight champion could have cost his fighter the title.

Hearn was hugging Froch while the American referee was still giving the battered IBF champion Lucien Bute a standing count. Fortunately he did not see Hearn in the ring before ending the fight, otherwise he would have been obliged to disqualify Froch whose brilliant performance was in the Floyd Mayweather mould. Yesterday the Money Man himself began his delayed 90-day jail sentence for domestic assault.

His 7ft by 12ft cell at Nevada's Clark County Detention Centre will seem a far cry from his mansion in Las Vegas. It does not have TV so he won't be watching the man he'd love to fight but probably never will, Manny Pacquiao, in what could be a valedictory appearance against Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand on Saturday. Viewers here can watch on Primetime (, 0871 200 4444).

Game for a laugh

Now here's a funny thing. It really has been jolly hockey sticks for the GB women's Olympic squad who have been warming up for this week's Investec London Cup by tickling each other's ribs in stand-up comedy routines. The session, aimed at assisting team bonding, was led by comic Neil Mullarky at Bisham.

"The idea was to get the shy ones to come out of their shell," explains midfielder Ashleigh Ball. "It was all a bit of a laugh – literally." No joke though was a subsequent training session – over an assault course with the Marines.