Irish boxer has one last bash at gaining entry to Olympics
IRISH LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT amateur champion Joe Ward made a last-ditch effort late last night in London to gain entry to the Olympic Games boxing event.
The 19-year-old from Co Westmeath, who is also the current European Champion, was controversially beaten in the Olympic qualifying event in Trabzon, Turkey, in April and was subsequently overlooked for a London 2012 wildcard place last month.
Ward, through his legal adviser Frank Walsh, made an appeal to the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which normally convenes in Lausanne but last night sat in the International Olympic Committee’s London base for the Olympic Games, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.
The hearing was originally scheduled for 2pm yesterday but was then delayed to start at 9pm. Ward’s legal team, which flew in from Dublin yesterday afternoon, compiled a 38-page submission, which argued Ward’s case on a number of issues.
The CAS is the same sports court of appeal that Michelle Smith de Bruin applied to after she was suspended for four years by swimming governing body Fina. De Bruin was found to have adulterated a sample of urine with whiskey in an out-of-competition test conducted at her Kilkenny home in January 1998. The court heard the case in August 1999 and upheld Fina’s ban, which effectively ended her swimming career.
CAS was originally set up to settle disputes related to sport. Its headquarters are in Lausanne and its courts are located in New York, Sydney and Lausanne, except during Olympic Games.
Ward’s team has been busily working behind the scenes on the case for the last month, with no input from any of the sport’s governing bodies in Ireland. It had been accepted by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association that the talented teenager would not be attending the games.
When Ward was beaten 18-15 by Turkey’s Bahram Muzaffer in the Olympic qualification tournament in Trabzon, the Irish boxing delegation immediately appealed the decision, unsuccessfully.
A wildcard possibility subsequently arose. But international body AIBA explained in an e-mail that Ward would not be chosen for London. It stated: “We regrettably found out that your boxer [Ward] does not meet the qualification to be the next-best boxer in your continent.”
Ward, the European light-heavyweight champion, at that time was ranked five in the world by AIBA. In the July world rankings he has risen one place to fourth. Montenegrin boxer Bosco Draskovic, who received the wildcard nomination, was ranked 25 places below the Irishman at the time but is now not listed in the official list of the top 36 boxers.
The light-heavyweight division begins in the ExCel Arena in London’s Docklands area on Monday.