Cook running out of options after taekwondo star suffers double blow
16:59 GMT, 23 June 2012
Aaron Cook's bid for a place in Great Britain's Olympic taekwondo team has suffered a double setback.
The British Olympic Association has rejected the latest evidence presented by Cook's representatives that the world No 1 should have been selected for London 2012.
Lutalo Muhammad, the world No 49, was preferred to Cook in the -80kg class following a controversial procedure which required three selection meetings.
Out of options: Aaron Cook looks set to miss out on the Olympics in London
Cook's camp warned they would take the case to the High Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the BOA did not act on receipt of the pre-action letter.
The High Court now looks like the only option after the BOA declared that CAS was 'not the correct forum' because Cook had not been nominated for selection.
The BOA said in a statement: 'It is the view of the BOA that the Court of Arbitration for Sport is not the correct forum for Aaron Cook's claims to be heard, as the relevant provisions of the Olympic Charter regarding the jurisdiction of CAS and the Olympic Games relate primarily to athletes who have been nominated for selection by their National Governing Bodies.
'It is also the view of the BOA that the letter and evidence from Aaron Cook's attorneys does not provide sufficient new information for the BOA to direct GB Taekwondo to reopen its selection process.
'The BOA review was conducted by in-house and external counsel.'
Cook believes he has been 'cheated' out of his rightful place at the Olympics and that GB Taekwondo are 'bringing the sport into disrepute'.
Following advice from Michael Beloff QC, Cook's lawyers Harbottle and Lewis sent a pre-action letter to the BOA last week outlining their legal case.
That letter included fresh evidence
that Cook's camp believe showed the GB Taekwondo selection process to be
flawed, a claim the BOA have rejected.
Cook's representative Jamie Cunningham said last week: 'Until it's dead we are not giving up.
Best of the best: Cook (left) is ranked No 1 in the world
'It is a disgrace. We should be ashamed in this country that we have a world No 1 that is not going to the Olympics, particularly when UK Sport set a selection criteria about winning gold medals.
'We would prefer not to pursue any legal route. We urge the BOA to reconsider their position and their nomination.
'The BOA, we believe, knows that the British Taekwondo selection process was flawed.
'We will be writing a letter before action to the BOA. We urge the BOA not to make Aaron Cook a victim of a flawed selection process, which they may not have written but they did approve.'
Cook wrote to BOA chairman Lord Moynihan before the third GB Taekwondo selection meeting, expressing 'some worries that were all true' about the process.
That letter was copied to the sports minister Hugh Robertson.
Cook has called on the International Olympic Committee to get involved, and he has demanded UK Sport conduct their own inquiry and expressed his disappointment in the BOA.
'I feel they gave up fighting for me,' said Cook, who described the episode as the toughest experience of his life.
'I am really disappointed with UK Sport. As a UK taxpayer you expect lottery money to be involved in the correct processes.
'The reaction of the WTF has been to investigate British Taekwondo.
Chosen one: Lutalo Muhammad (right)
'This suggests UK Sport needs to urgently conduct their own full inquiry into what has happened and why. They just seem to be avoiding the whole issue.
'The sport of taekwondo needs a great Olympics given we have to reapply in 2013 to remain an Olympic sport.
'I am sure the IOC are looking at this whole situation and asking why the world's greatest taekwondo tournament does not include the world No 1.
'I would ask the IOC to consider my situation.'
Cook claimed his non-selection stemmed from his decision to leave the GB Taekwondo training programme 12 months ago to go it alone.
Since deciding to train in a home-made gym in his parents' back garden and assemble his own support team at the cost of 100,000, Cook has won nine of his last 12 tournaments and become the world No 1.
'I always thought it would be impossible for them not to pick me if I won the majority of the tournaments listed in their selection criteria, which I did,' Cook said.
'When I have put the results in I feel like I have been cheated.'
Cunningham called on the BOA and GB Taekwondo to publish the selection criteria, believing that would show their decision to be flawed.
He also urged the WTF to undertake their review into the selection process as quickly as possible.