BOA face possible legal challenges over controversial Olympic selections


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The Independent Online

The British Olympic Association faces the prospect of the immediate build-up to next month’s Games becoming clouded by selection challenges.

Keith Cook, a fencer, today took the first steps towards a legal challenge after his lawyer described British Fencing’s selection procedure as “plainly misconceived” and “inept.”

Aaron Cook, the world taekwondo No 1, is considering whether to take his case to the High Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sport having been controversially left out of the British team for a lower ranked athlete. He is expected to make a decision on legal action in the next couple of days, and now his fencing namesake may be left with little option but to take to the courts too.

Keith Cook was overlooked for the fencing team and then had his application for an appeal rejected because he had not applied within the timescale set out by British Fencing. Cook emailed British Fencing officials on 6 June asking whether he had been selected only to be told the following day he had not and that the “time for any appeal has expired.”

British Fencing say that Cook, a former British champion, had not provided contact details as set out in their selection policy document. Rod McKenzie, a leading Scottish sports lawyer who is representing Cook pro bono, has written to the BOA, who have the final say on Olympic selection, and British Fencing claiming multiple breaches of selection policy and demanding Cook be granted an appeal.

Cook said: “I feel utterly sickened. To find out they had excluded me from the Olympic selection because of an e-mail address was insane - surreal. I am going to fight this injustice tooth and nail.” British Fencing insist it will not revisit the decision to deny Cook an appeal, leaving a legal action, either through CAS or the Scottish courts, as the only option left to Cook if he wishes to pursue the matter. Five fencers did appeal their non-selection and had them rejected. The BOA tonight backed British Fencing’s selection.

Tonia Couch, a diver, is having an appeal heard through her sport’s governing body, British Swimming, this week, while the triathlete Liz Blatchford is considering legal action over her non-selection.