World taekwondo body to review British team selection
LONDON, June 7 – World number one Aaron Cook’s omission from Britain’s Olympic taekwondo squad risks bringing the sport into disrepute, the sport’s world governing body said today.
The Lausanne-based World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) added in a statement, 50 days before the start of the Games in London, that it was concerned about a lack of transparency in the selection process and had ordered a review of it.
British Taekwondo selectors have repeatedly chosen lower-ranked Lutalo Muhammad instead of Cook, the European champion and world number one in the -80kg division.
The British Olympic Association (BOA) refused to ratify Muhammad’s nomination last week but a third meeting of British Taekwondo’s selection panel yesterday chose him again.
The BOA’s four-man Olympic Qualification Standards (OQS) panel must now decide what to do.
“We are extremely disappointed by the way in which British Taekwondo’s selection process has been conducted,” said WTF general secretary Jean-Marie Ayer.
“It is clear that the lack of a conclusive rationale has caused confusion. The manner of the selection is bringing our sport into disrepute among the UK media and major Olympic stakeholders due to a perceived lack of transparency.”
Media reports have suggested Cook has been penalised for training independently after opting out of British Taekwondo’s world-class performance programme, an assertion the British body has rejected.
They have also highlighted that the same five people have sat on the nomination panel on all three occasions, although the latest had an independent BOA observer present.
Ayer said the WTF’s main concern was to ensure every athlete was given fair and equal consideration.
“People all over the world practise taekwondo because it represents sport in its purest form: an individual display of skill, speed and strength,” added Ayer.
“It is essential that the WTF preserves that purity for its 201 member countries and 70 million practitioners with transparent and decisive governance.” – Reuters