Athletics Ireland has rejected the suggestion by Irish marathoner Sergiu Ciobanu that his Moldovan background counted against him in the decision to omit him from the Olympic marathon team.
Ciobanu was the third fastest Irish male marathoner during the qualification period, but was only announced as a reserve when the three-man team was named on Monday evening, which left the 32-year-old claiming he felt “robbed”.
Ciobanu, who was born in Moldova but moved to Ireland in 2006, said he believed if he was born in Ireland he would have been selected.
However Athletics Ireland dismissed that assertion, releasing a statement which said they “categorically and completely reject any inference that an athlete’s background was in any way a factor in the decision.”
Yesterday Ciobanu took to his Facebook page to vent his frustration, writing: “I have placed reliance on the published selection policy and have used that as the basis of my preparations for the Olympic Games. It’s disgusting to see that rules were not respected. I trusted an Association which I lost respect for.”
Jerry Kiernan, who coaches Ciobanu, also criticised what he believed was an “unfair” process, adding that two of the five-person panel had “absolutely no expertise whatsoever in picking a marathon team.”
Athletics Ireland yesterday named those behind the selection and offered an explanation for the decision: “The five-person panel of experienced people – Jim Aughney, Eamon Harvey, Patsy McGonagle, Brid Golden, Paul McNamara – with Kevin Ankrom as chair, assessed the situation carefully,” said a spokesman.
“The panel made very difficult decisions based purely on which athletes the panel believed would deliver the best performances at the Olympics.
Athletics Ireland confirmed last night that Ciobanu has appealed the decision, with a hearing likely to be held by Friday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved