Great British Rowing is effectively blocking homegrown athletes with international potential from competing in the Boat Race, claims the Oxford coach, Sean Bowden, ahead of today's 2012 race.
Constantine Louloudis, who stroked Oxford to victory last year, and Cambridge's George Nash have both taken a year off to compete at the Olympics. Bowden is also frustrated at how few British rowing undergraduates are joining the university. Only five of the 16 rowers competing this year are British.
"It's very difficult for good British undergraduates to be allowed to row for Oxford or Cambridge by the national team," Bowden said.
"They have more or less vetoed any involvement in Oxford. Unfortunately a lot of English undergraduates are being attracted to American universities or other British universities where it's felt there is a closer co-operation with the national teams."
The training demands of the Boat Race run in conflict with those of GB Rowing, who want all athletes to be based at the national centre in Caversham.
Today, Oxford are favourites to repeat their race victory of last year.