Monday 20 November 2017

Athletics: Cuddihy in limbo as OCI refuse to handle appeal

Caitriona Cuddihy
Caitriona Cuddihy
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THE Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) batted the women's relay selection controversy right back at the feet of Athletics Ireland (AAI) yesterday.

The OCI confirmed they received a request for an appeal from a solicitor representing Kilkenny 400m runner Caitriona Cuddihy. But OCI spokesman Jack McGouran said they will not handle the appeal until they are satisfied that Athletics Ireland followed all the proper procedures in their own internal selection and appeal process.

Athletics Ireland chief executive John Foley confirmed they have had a formal request for information from the OCI and are responding to it "as a matter of urgency".

The Irish Independent understands that one procedural hiccup did occur in the AAI's appeal process.

When Joanna Mills formally objected to being omitted from the squad, AAI was duty-bound to contact all of the other members of the relay team, inform them an appeal had been lodged and offer give them all an opportunity to make a personal submission on the matter.

Athletics Ireland actually followed correct procedure and did this.

But they informed the athletes of this by email and the address that AAI used was not recognised by the various athletes' internet accounts.

As a result, the notification went into the athletes' 'junk mail' boxes and was not discovered until Saturday night, which was after Mills' appeal had been heard.

AAI selected Cuddihy on their 4x400m team for London a week ago, when she was actually one of the athletes invited to model Ireland's official Olympic team uniform. But AAI deselected her last Saturday after Mills won a successful appeal to be included on the relay squad.

Both Cuddihy and Mills were part of the recent Irish 4x400m team that competed at the European Championships, though both were reserves and did not run.

Athletics Ireland subsequently put Jessie Barr, who had reached the European 400m hurdles final, back into the Olympic team (she had been a member of it at last year's World Championships) and dropped Mills.

The Olympic Council are keen to get this matter sorted as quickly as possible because they must officially register all of their competitors with the London Olympic organisers this week.

Athletics Ireland released a statement yesterday saying that "as the process of selection and appeal is on-going, we do not consider it appropriate to comment further or to engage in discussion about the selection".

But it added: "Athletics Ireland is very aware of how difficult the events of the past week have been for all involved in the sport and particularly those seeking selection in this event."

The Olympic Council confirmed yesterday that cyclist Matt Brammeier's appeal to be included as part of the road race team in London has been turned down.

The OCI's Appeal Tribunal, chaired by Susan Ahern and comprising William O'Brien (OCI first vice-president), Dermot Sherlock (OCI secretary) and OCI's legal counsel, met Brammeier's legal representatives last Saturday but did not find in his favour. His only course of appeal now is to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

Irish Independent

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