Eventer Alexander Peternell will represent South Africa at the Olympics following a ruling by the world’s top court for sporting disputes, but his country’s Olympic committee is far from happy about it.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week set aside the selection of Paul Hart, leaving the way clear for Peternell.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) released a statement today in which it described the ruling that resulted in the selection of Peternell, who bases himself in Britain, as unfortunate.
SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy said: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has unfortunately ruled in favour of Mr Alex Peternell and has instructed both the South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF) and ourselves … to include this athlete into our team.
“This is the second attempt by Mr Peternell to take SASCOC and the SAEF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“As we all know, this athlete has been based in the United Kingdom for the last 11 years consecutively and we have now been instructed to include him in the equestrian discipline of eventing.
“It is indeed a very sad day for us as a country to be instructed to select an athlete into Team South Africa against our will, but being a disciplined member of the Olympic movement we have no option but to adhere fully to this decision.
“To Paul Hart, all I can say is that, as SASCOC, we tried assiduously and to the best of our ability to support you in your quest for Olympic representation and in fact challenged the Court of Arbitration for Sport twice in this process, indicating that it is our belief that your selection was in fact a fair process.
“Unfortunately, with this ruling … we cannot deviate in any way whatsoever as this ruling gives a clear indication that the selection of Mr Peternell has been made by CAS, and we are now implementing their decision.
“It is with regret that one of our loyal countrymen, Paul Hart has to bear the brunt of this sad situation.
“It is abundantly clear from the comments posted on the official SASCOC website, from largely the South African public, that the South African public has stood and continues to stand behind Paul Hart as the preferred athlete for selection.
“This decision is unfortunate as it forces upon the South African public an athlete that they do not necessarily recognise and one that they do not necessarily support.
“While this whole affair is regrettable, for the sake of the Olympic Games it is important to move forward and focus our energies on the job on hand and concentrate on our team’s preparation.”