Aaron Cook will have to pursue legal action if he is to stand any chance of competing at London 2012 after the British Olympic Association yesterday finally ratified the team put forward by British Taekwondo. Cook, the world No 1, was not chosen by BT despite three times being asked to reconsider its selection by the BOA.
Last night Cook's representative, Jamie Cunningham, condemned the decision by the BOA. He said: "It is an absolute disgrace that a British world No 1 has not been selected for the London Olympics by either his governing body or Olympic Association. The taekwondo selectors should be ashamed of themselves."
Outside of the courts – an expensive option for a self-funded athlete – there is one ray of hope, albeit a dim one, for Cook with the BOA reserving the right to reconsider its decision should an inquiry by the World Taekwondo Federation find issue with BT's selection. The BOA spoke with the WTF before making yesterday's announcement in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, the originally selected athlete. The WTF has suggested it will take up to two weeks to complete its inquiry.
Cunningham said: "We urge the World Taekwondo Federation to consider the ramifications of this flawed decision for their great sport. It makes a mockery of the Taekwondo -80kg competition in the London Olympics."
The BOA were left with little choice but to accept BT's nomination after the governing body fulfilled the extra demands made of it by the BOA. A BOA legal observer sat through the last selection meeting, convened by BT after the BOA asked it to reconsider. The meeting has been judged to have satisfied the BOA, although Cook's camp remain deeply unhappy with the process. Patrick Remarck, Cook's coach who attended the meeting, felt it was too subjective and more demands were made of him than of Muhammad's representative.
The BOA does have the power to reject any athlete for its team, but cannot exercise powers of selection. After consultation with its board and legal advice it accepted, with an obvious degree of reluctance, Muhammad's selection.