Cook gives up the fight due to legal costs

DEVASTATED: Aaron Cook

DEVASTATED: Aaron Cook

First published in Weymouth and Portland Sailing Olympics and Paralympics 2012 News

AARON Cook has confirmed he will not take his fight for selection to the Team GB Olympic taekwondo squad to the High Court.

The Dorchester-born world number one in the -80kg class was controversially overlooked in favour of Lutalo Muhammad for the Games and has sought to overturn this decision.

The British Olympic Association ruled there was not sufficient new evidence for GB Taekwondo to be forced to re-open its selection process last week and although Cook hinted he was willing to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, yesterday he confirmed he has since backtracked.

In a statement, he said: “After careful consideration over the last few weeks, and despite my representatives advising me that I still had a good chance of successfully overturning the BOA’s ratification of Great Britain Taekwondo’s decision not to select me for London 2012, I have decided not to take my case against the BOA to the High Court.”

The statement continued: “The financial implications for me, and, more importantly, for my parents, of doing so are too prohibitive.”

World number 49 Muhammad was controversially preferred to Cook in the -80kg class following a controversial procedure which required three selection meetings.

Cook claims he had been ‘cheated’ out of his rightful place because of the decision to leave the GB Taekwondo Academy programme, which the governing body have always refuted.

The 21-year-old said: “I am really disappointed that the BOA did not agree to my case being heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“It is the specialist forum for sports-related matters.

“The High Court is significantly more expensive, time-consuming and does not have the experience or expertise in dealing with sports-related disputes.”

Cook confirmed the World Taekwondo Federation are conducting an investigation into the selection process although their findings will not be available before the Olympics.

“I welcome this investigation but I am hugely disappointed that the WTF have now indicated that they will not finalise the review and findings in time for London 2012,” he said.

“This is particularly disappointing as the BOA had reserved the right to reconsider its decision to ratify Great Britain Taekwondo’s nomination in light of the WTF’s findings.

“I do hope that the WTF will consider after the Games a new automatic selection criteria for the top 10 athletes in the world rankings in each weight category for future Olympics and World Championships.

“I also hope that UK Sport and the BOA act to resolve the long-term issues that have been revealed by my case.”

He added: “The Olympics, and especially a home Olympics, would have been the pinnacle of my career. I feel totally devastated.”

Jamie Cunningham, chief executive of Cook’s management company Professional Sports Group believes his client has been ‘badly let down’ by the BOA.

“In 20 years of working with elite athletes in sport, I have never come across anything quite like Aaron Cook’s situation with Great Britain Taekwondo and the British Olympic Association,” Cunningham said.

“Aaron has been let down by British Taekwondo and, its benefactor, UK Sport, which contributes the majority of its funding through taxpayer’s money.

“Most recently, Aaron has been let down by the BOA, which still had the power not to ratify the nomination of Lutalo Muhammad for a second time but decided not to do so despite having concluded that the second selection decision was flawed after Sport Resolutions had decided that the original selection decision was flawed.

“I am sure that the complete story will emerge in time.”

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