Small, Neben lose arbitration cases over US Olympic spots

Arbitrator says USA Cycling fairly applied selection criteria in choosing women's road team for Rio

USA Cycling confirmed late Wednesday afternoon that Carmen Small and Amber Neben have lost their respective appeals over the governing body's Olympic selections. An arbitrator upheld USA Cycling’s selections for the 2016 Olympic Games Women's individual time trial.

"The arbitrator held that USA Cycling's Selection Committee followed its Selection Procedures and fairly applied the criteria as written," USA Cycling said in an email to Cyclingnews.

Both Small and Neben, who finished first and second, respectively, at the US national time trial championships in May, were left off the Olympic road team when USA Cycling announced its selections on June 23.

USA Cycling's selection committee chose Kirsten Armstrong, Mara Abbott and Evelyn Stevens to join US national road race champion Megan Guarnier in Rio. Guarnier earned an automatic selection to the road race based on her podium finish at the 2015 world championships in Richmond.

Armstrong and Stevens were selected for the time trial, while all four riders will compete in the road race. Olympic rules require that the time trialists also compete in the road race.

Small and Neben opened arbitration cases shortly after the selections were announced, but today's ruling ends their appeals. Small and Neben were not prepared to comment to Cyclingnews on Wednesday.

In its email to Cyclingnews, USA Cycling said American cycling is fortunate to have a wealth of talent that allows it to draw from a pool of medal capable athletes.

"Amber and Carmen are immensely gifted athletes, and we regret that we are only allowed two Olympic time trial positions given our deep talent pool,” the statement read. “We are pleased, however, that an independent arbitrator upheld the selections for the women's Olympic Individual Time Trials made by our Selection Committee. Our Selection Committee chose the athletes based on our previously published selection criteria, and we thank them for taking on the difficult task of making these choices."

Below is an excerpt of the ruling provided by USA Cycling:

"Respondent did follow its Selection Procedures and fairly applied the criteria as written to each of the Claimant and Affected Parties, both in determining the four athletes, Kristin Armstrong, Amber Neben, Carmen Small and Evelyn Stevens, were each 'Medal Capable' and in ranking them to select the two members of the 2016 Women's Individual Time Trial Event Olympic team. USA Cycling did not exercise its discretion in an arbitrary manner and did evaluate whether each Affected Party selected for the Women's Individual Time Trial Event Olympic team had demonstrated the capacity for a medal capable performance at the time of selection and the time of the 2016 Olympic Games more so than the other two Medal Capable athletes, Affected Party Amber Neben and Claimant Carmen Small. USA Cycling exercised its discretion appropriately by applying the Definitions and Criteria of Medal Capable and using the Data to Support Discretionary Nominations and Selections to do so. Each of those require USA Cycling to evaluate the specified objective factors using its discretionary expertise which USA Cycling did without bias or bad faith and consistently as applied to each of the Claimant and Affected Parties." 

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