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Hunt calls for process overhaul after Cook snub
8:21am Monday 11th June 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
BRITISH Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt has strongly criticised Great Britain Taekwondo’s “discretionary” selection policy in the wake of the row over the non-selection of world number one Aaron Cook for the Olympics.
Lutalo Muhammad’s nomination in place of Cook in the under-80kg division for London 2012 was ratified by the BOA at the third time of asking on Friday.
Dorchester’s Cook was overlooked three times by GB Taekwondo, with the BOA and the World Taekwondo Feder-ation launching reviews into the selection process.
Hunt said: “I’m comfortable that due process has been totally followed in the end.
“I’m not totally comfortable to have a selection policy – and we don’t approve selection policies, we only comment on them – which is so discretionary.
“Particularly at a home Games where every athlete is fighting for their place for the extraordinary honour of competing for the home team at a home Games, it’s important this is right and hence why we’ve seen not only in taekwondo but across a number of sports challenges of this kind.
“I think the key learning that comes out of this, not only for taekwondo, but across all Olympic sports, is when we come out of these Games and we look forward to 2016, we need to apply far more rigour around making sure selection policies are much more objective and have far clearer criteria.
“When they are subjective criteria they are much clearer criteria (and) they are ranked in some way as well so that all athletes fully understand on a transparent basis how these decisions will be made.”
GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall defended the selection policy, claiming both players were fully aware of it. He said: “Our selection policy’s been out there for more than four years.
“Both athletes have signed up to the selection policy, which is a performance-based not a results-based selection policy.
“The selection happened and the vote was done in accordance exactly with the selection policy.
“The selection policy has never included world rankings because it doesn’t tell a true reflection on performance.
“World number one in our selection policy comes down to whether you win world medals, European medals or Olympic medals. We totally respect the system, but it doesn’t tell us entirely what the performance potential of each athlete is.
“He (Cook) has got a good CV, he’s been at it a long time. Lutalo hasn’t been at it as long, he’s made a very fast progression in a very short space of time.”
Cook left the GB Taekwondo set-up a year ago to work outside the programme and his supporters have always felt that has worked against him.
Hall said: “I assure you it’s absolutely not the case.”
Cook is expected to announce early in the coming week whether he will launch a legal challenge to his omission from Great Britain’s team.
Jamie Cunningham, chief executive of Cook’s management company Professional Sports Group, last week described Cook’s omission as “an absolute disgrace” and a “flawed decision”, while Bob Mitchell, solicitor at law firm Harbottle & Lewis who are representing Cook, revealed a statement on his next course of action was likely to be issued early in the week.