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Taekwondo World No 1 Aaron Cook fights Olympic omission


By Dan Chapman

 

European Taekwondo champion Aaron Cook – expected to be rated number one in the world when next month’s rankings are released – is urging the British Olympic Association (BOA) to look again at the decision to overlook him for London 2012.

He maintains he is Britain’s best choice to fill GB Taekwondo’s 80kg fighter slot after winning nine tour titles including the Olympic test during the past year.

Cook’s claim is supported by former international team mate John Cullen who says leaving Cook out of the team is like soccer giants Barcelona dropping star player Lionel Messi.

GB Taekwondo have nominated Lutalo Muhammad in Cook’s place. Muhammed is ranked as world 93, but he beat Cook on the way to winning German Open silver in March – a defeat avenged by Cook on the way to winning the Dutch Open.

Cook and GB Taekwondo have had a patchy relationship resulting in the fighter. Cook left GB Taekwondo to set up his own Team Cook in June after slumping out of the world championships in South Korea in the first round citing ‘negative’ tactics imposed on him as the reason for his defeat.

Cook was told about the decision not to include him in the Olympic team on May 11. He appealled the decision with overseeing body British Taekwondo and independent dispute resolution service Sport Resolutions.

“This has cost me a significant amount of money. The letter I received on May 25 from British Taekwondo following their second selection meeting confirmed that I had not been selected again,” said Cook. “I now have no option but to request that the BOA review the selection.”

“This is my whole life. I could not believe what I read.”

The BOA has confirmed a review of British Taekwondo’s last team place selection is underway. As host nation, British fighters do not have to qualify for the Olympics, but are granted a number of places at the Games.

GB Taekwondo said: “Selection has been conducted according to a policy shared with and signed by every athlete that has applied for Olympic selection.

“The panel’s aim has always been to select athletes who have the best potential to win the best set of medals for Great Britain.”

Our view at Full Contact is that issues such as this, whether in the context of the Olympics or other sports, are only likely to become more prevalent. The growth in awareness of sports law, and the ability to challenge decisions made by governing bodies (whether via civil courts or regulatory bodies) is becoming a hot topic – in the last two weeks alone, there are a number of high profile examples. Regulatory bodies will need to become more aware of their legal obligations, and indeed many of them are, particularly in the larger sports – it is perhaps the regulatory bodies in what were previously considered to be minority sports who may have the largest game of catch up to play. At Full Contact we assist regulatory bodies in a variety of sports, and of course sporting clubs and individuals too.

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Dan's avatar

About Dan
The spearhead and Senior Partner of Full Contact, Dan is an experienced solicitor and advocate, with a specialist background in employment law and sports.


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