Tae Kwon Do Olympic Controversy – Rotherham Martial Arts

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The sports minister, Hugh Robertson, has admitted the spiralling controversy surrounding the non-selection of the taekwondo world No1, Aaron Cook, for Team GB risks embarrassing the host country less than 50 days before the London Olympics.

After GB Taekwondo knocked back Cook for a third time in favour of Lutalo Muhammad, the World Taekwondo Federation said on Thursday that it was “extremely disappointed” with a selection process that risked bringing the sport into international disrepute. It also launched its own immediate inquiry.

The British Olympic Association, which is considering the unprecedented step of forcing the British governing body to pick Cook over Muhammad, said it would consult the WTF and its own board before deciding how to proceed.

“It’s a very sensible precedent that sports ministers don’t select teams,” said Robertson, speaking on Thursday at a Ladbroke’s Sports Journalists’ Association lunch ahead of a meeting with the BOA chief executive, Andy Hunt. “It is not for me to tell GB Taekwondo or the BOA who they should select. My line on this is a very simple one. I want us to win as many gold medals as possible at London 2012.

“Is it embarrassing for us? The honest answer is yes, because you would rather not see sports getting criticised by their international federations.”

Robertson was copied in on a letter written to the BOA chairman, Lord Moynihan, by Cook protesting about the fact he had been twice overlooked, despite winning an initial appeal that forced GB Taekwondo to look again at the decision. After the BOA refused to endorse Muhammad’s nomination, the GB Taekwondo panel met for a third time with a lawyer present but again put forward Muhammad, who is ranked 58 places below Cook.

The psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who has worked extensively with British Cycling and was one of the five GB Taekwondo selection panel members who abstained from voting, spoke out in defence of the process on Thursday night.

He said all relevant performance factors had been considered over three hours and that the process was fair. “We discussed a lot of points one by one in massive detail.Everyone at the end of the day wants to get a gold medal for Great Britain. That is the only agenda. We have to be very careful not to undermine the coaches in Great Britain. They are men of honesty and integrity.”

Cook, who parted company with GB Taekwondo’s high-performance coaches after last year’s world championships and suspects that move may have had a bearing on the decision, has instructed the law firm Harbottle & Lewis to advise him of his options. GB Taekwondo’s performance director, Gary Hall, has insisted the decision was made purely on performance grounds and was nothing to do with Cook’s decision to train alone.

Cook’s coach, Patrice Remarck, branded GB Taekwondo a “fiefdom” and said its determination to reject Cook was a disgrace. “They came up with a decision and they have to keep coming up with the same position otherwise they look stupid,” he said.