30th May 2012
PRESS RELEASE: 30th May 2012
Fully Transparent & Robust Selection Protocol Followed for Selection of Host Nation Places
British Fencing wish to respond to the recent allegations made by The Times regarding the selection process for the nominations of its host nation places for the London Olympic Games. This release is intended to lay out the clear facts whilst the organisation makes decisions on how and whether to respond further to these allegations. The facts are as follows:-
1) British Fencing has never had any financial dealings or financial relationship with Jon Williams other than accepting £40 in membership fees from Mr. Williams. We have offered to The Times to back that statement up with financial records that will prove that statement to be true.
2) Funding provided by British Fencing to the Truro Fencing Centre to support the club as a national performance centre and to Jon Salfield as National Sabre Coach, comes from UK Sport and our sponsors and, as such, is subject to audit and a high level of scrutiny as one would expect when receiving public funds.
3) During the process of selecting fencers for our London 2012 Olympic squad, members of the performance advisory group and independent selection body - both created to provide transparency and fairness in the selection process - were required to declare any conflict of interest and excuse themselves when conflicts occurred. In the case of selection of sabre fencers, Jon Salfield presented the relevant information about the candidates, declared his interest and left the room and was not present for the selection - or non selection - of prospective Olympic athletes. An independent appeals panel looked into this matter and found there was no evidence of bias due to his involvement, and that numerous checks and balances existed to ensure fairness. We have offered to provide The Times with minutes of the selection meeting that will show this to be the case.
4) Our selection process has the full approval, support and participation of the BOA and UK Sport and involves sports professionals from outside of fencing to ensure that our selection procedures are clear and that the athletes are given a fair and transparent process. The athletes themselves signed up to this process.
5) As a part of an ongoing restructure of the board of directors, it has already been determined that 8 British Fencing directors will stand down in tranches of 4 beginning in October. This has been openly communicated and has absolutely no relation to a suggested ‘uproar among the board’ about the selection process.
As a result of the appeals process, our selection process has been supported by an adjudication body from Sports Resolutions chaired by Charles Flint QC. This report can be found here:
Actual selection of our athletes for London 2012 is dependent upon approval from the BOA.
A story like this which is not only factually incorrect but wrong on so many fronts puts our athletes at a severe disadvantage going into what should be a great moment for our sport of fencing in Britain.
Prior to The Times printing this story they were sent a clear statement which follows:-
“We hope you will consider our position before putting us as an organisation and our supporters in a place where we have to defend ourselves from baseless, potentially libellous and factually incorrect charges from what we believe to be an anonymous source.”
This information was provided to The Times ahead of their decision to print their story on 30th May 2012. British Fencing was not given the opportunity to see the written allegations in advance of the story’s publication, nor were we given the name of the person or persons who made the allegations. British Fencing will not make any further comments on this matter until the BOA announces the fencers who will compete for Team GB at the London Olympic Games.