Thursday 7 June 2012

Taekwondo selection ethics to be looked at by World body

Cook (Blue) v Muhammad (Red) at German Open 2012
British Taekwondo have for a third time selected Lutola Muhammad ranked 59th in the world at the -80kg class over Aaron Cook the World number one.

While the British Olympic Assocation's (BOA) Qualification Standards Panel (QSP) are meeting to consider whether to ratify the decision which they have already rejected, the World Taekwondo Federation have stepped into the fray saying:

"The manner of the selection is bringing our sport into disrepute."

Last year cook removed himself from British Taewondo's programme after a disappointing showing in the world championships. He set up his own team of trainers and sparring partners in the gym his father had built for him in a shed in his own back garden. The end result of this doing his own thing has been a return to world number one spot in the latest rankings announced last Friday. But it does appear that somehow this is not enough for British Taekwondo.

Jean-Marie Ayer secretary-general of the World Taewondo Federation (WTF) has said today:

"We are extremely disappointed by the way in which British Taekwondo's selection process has been conducted and 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.

"Our main concern is always that every athlete is given fair and equal consideration - their welfare must come first.

"We at the WTF have done our utmost to bring fair practices and transparency to our sport, and that is why we have committed to undertaking this review." 


"Up until now, the WTF had hoped that this matter could be resolved internally at British Taekwondo.

"As the global governing body, we do not interfere with the selection processes and internal affairs of our member nations. We have always stated that the athletes nominated for selection must meet minimum requirements set in the qualification system. 

"We are not commenting on the decision to select or omit specific athletes, as the criteria imposed beyond our minimum requirements are the remit of the individual member nation.

"This review will not have the power to alter British Taekwondo's decision, but it will determine whether any rules of the WTF ethics code have been broken."
 While there is no comment about any particular case but in light of the ongoing dispute about the athlete ranked number one failing to win the endorsement of his own nation's governing body, it is clear what the incident that may have led to this investigation stems from.

The QSP are consulting with the WTF and the BOA's baord of directors tomorrow before coming to their conclusion as to what action to take.

However, what is repugnant are fans sending Muhammad hate mail as a result of a decision that is out side his control. He like Cook has done all he can to represent his country at these home Olympics. He like Cook did win a European gold medal earlier this year, though his was in the slightly heavier -87kg category where he is ranked number 7 in the world.

Update On Friday Dr Steve Peters, non-executive director of GB Taekwondo, who didn't have a vote on selection, said:

"We all agreed that if world ranking and success in tournaments were the only selection criteria, then Aaron would be selected as he's an outstanding athlete who could get gold at the Olympics

"All we're saying is that there are two athletes who can achieve this.

"Lutalo is improving at a rate of knots and has potential which hasn't been tapped."

So there you have it result and ranking don't mean a thing when you come up against untapped potential that is improving. Well there are 50 more days of improvement ahead unless things change.

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