LONDON 2012: More athletes get set to go legal in bid to earn Olympic selection
OLYMPIC selectors are poised for a succession of appeals in the weeks ahead as they finalise the make-up of Great Britain's 550-strong London 2012 team.
BELIEF: Aaron Cook, the world number one in taekwondo's welterweight division, claims it is 'incredible' he hasn't been selected for the London 2012 Olympics - with supporters citing his ongoing dispute with team officials as a cause (Getty Images)
With so much at stake, athletes are willing to do almost anything to get a place on the team for their home Games.
So far just over a fifth of the delegation has been formally selected and already UK Athletics have heard an appeal from Lee Merrien to be included in the men's marathon - they agreed with his case - and British Rowing have turned down a bid by cox Rowley Douglas to get inclusion in their eight.
In addition, Britain's rhythmic gymnastics team - who were initially denied a place at the Games after failing to hit a then disputed qualifying standard - appealed successfully to an independent resolution panel set up to adjudicate such disputes.
Normally the British Olympic Association can standby and leave such difficult decisions to the national governing bodies, their role largely ceremonial in the selection process.
So their decision to probe further in the case of Aaron Cook, controversially overlooked for the Games by British Taekwondo, is virtually unprecedented.
BOA chief executive and Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt will be joined by deputy chef de missions Sir Clive Woodward and Mark England and athletes' commission head Sarah Winckless on a four-strong panel that will discuss the issue on Tuesday.
Cook retained his European title earlier this month and is the world's number one ranked welterweight - one of four weight categories British Taekwondo selected to contest at the Games.
But he is not part of their Lottery funded world class performance plan coaching set-up, preferring to work on his own.
Despite this he was still widely expected to be in the four-strong squad British Taekwondo supplied to Team GB but instead his place was taken by Lutalo Muhammad, who is ranked tenth in the world and would have to drop down a weight division for the Olympics, after winning middleweight gold at the recent European Championships in Manchester.
"This is my whole life. I will continue to train for the London Olympics until the BOA announce the selected athletes in Taekwondo for Team GB," said Cook.
“I find it incredible as the world number one in my sport, I may not participate in the Games due to the ‘opinion’ of a committee who have apparently voted against the performance director, who is reported to have voted for me at both selection meetings,
"I left British Taekwondo's world class performance programme because I felt that their methods were wrong for me. I was not achieving my potential.
"Twelve months after backing myself and creating my team as a result of the financial backing of my personal sponsors, the results show that I was 100 percent right."
British Taekwondo deny any wrongdoing and insist they have followed all correct protocols.
"Selection of these athletes has involved some difficult decisions, a reflection of the progress that Britain has made in the sport over the last four years," they said, in a statement.
"The process has been conducted in accordance with a selection policy that has been shared with and signed by every athlete that has applied to be considered for Olympic selection.
"The selection panel’s primary aim has always been to select athletes who have the best potential to win the best set of medals for Great Britain. Their decisions take into account a number of factors and ultimately these decisions are based on the panel’s expert judgment in selecting athletes who will be best placed to bring success for Team GB.
"We have been informed by the BOA that their Olympic Qualification Standards Panel will meet to review the nominations. This is the practice where nominated athletes have not had to achieve Olympic qualification, as is the case for Britain’s taekwondo team who have been awarded their places at the Games as we are the host nation.
"The team announcement will be made by the BOA in due course and the confidentiality of the selection process prohibits us from making any further comment until after that announcement."
In addition to debating Cook's case, the BOA panel will also consider whether to make any host nation quota places available to British Wrestling.
The sport, which has received over £3.5m in lottery funding in recent years, has been heavily criticised for their decision to recruit training partners from Ukraine, Bulgaria and Russia, who have since earned nationality through residency and are challenging for two of the three available slots.
© Sportsbeat 2012