SA’s second-ranked woman cyclist, Cherise Stander (nee Taylor), has lost her appeal against the selection of the three-women Olympic road cycling team, but the ruling has highlighted a dispute regarding the eligibility of one of the selected team members.
This discovery by The Mercury on Thursday that one of the team members may not, according to a Cycling South Africa (CSA) ruling, be eligible, means Stander’s legal team may have grounds to challenge the finding in court.
A three-person panel, chaired by CSA vice-president Mike Bradley, who was assisted by George Corbett (president of Gauteng Cycling) and George Stroebel (president of Free State Cycling), on Wednesday ruled against changing the team after hearing Stander’s appeal in Joburg on Monday.
The CSA panel concluded that the women’s road cycling team for the Olympics remains Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Joanna van de Winkel and Robyn de Groot. However, it has emerged that De Groot may not have been eligible for selection at all because she does not have any valid UCI ranking points.
Stander appealed on the basis that the selection criteria sent out by Cycling SA’s High Performance Director on April 30 were not followed. Stander’s legal team contended that this e-mail was “… the final and only criteria insofar as the selection to the team…”.
The mail provided four selection criteria to choose the Olympic team: number of World Cup wins; ranking in World Cups; number of wins in UCI-ranked races; and ranking in the UCI Women’s Tour.
Crucially, both the final two points included a clause that African and national championship points must be excluded, no doubt to fall into line with Sascoc’s criteria that African continental events could not be used to select the Olympic team.
The selection criteria mail, however, left many loopholes and to solve these issues the selectors reverted to a CSA document that lays out the selection criteria for 2012 Road Cycling World Championships and Olympics Games. Among other details, that document gives a time frame that only events after October 1 are to be used for selection.
“We had to use the two documents in conjunction,” said Bradley on Thursday.
The appeal panel stated in their conclusion that “… reference had to be made to the Cycling SA policy document for clarification of time frames…” and also twice used the time period from the policy document to exclude Stander’s submissions of examples of her “properties of a domestique” (team rider).
However, in what is a major flaw in the finding, all of De Groot’s UCI points were either scored at African championships or at a team time trial in July 2011, an event that falls outside the selection time frame.
De Groot effectively does not have a UCI ranking and should thus have been excluded from selection. That would then mean the only three riders in contention for selection would be Moolman-Pasio, Van de Winkel and Stander.
Bradley said last night that they had made their ruling, and “I can’t go back on that decision now”.
De Groot and Stander could not be contacted for comment. They are currently in Europe preparing for the Giro Donne, a major women’s stage race. – The Mercury