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Jongewaard, Graham lodge Olympic appeals

By Greg Johnson

Cycling Australia has received two appeals from competitors regarding the nominations for the Olympic Games squad it will send to Beijing, China, in August. Both mountain biker Chris Jongewaard and women's road rider Lorian Graham have lodged appeals over their non-selection for the XXIX Olympiad, a Cycling Australia representative confirmed to Cyclingnews.

Both competitors lodged their appeal by yesterday's deadline after the nominees were announced last week. The two riders will be heard by a Cycling Australia selection appeals panel in Melbourne on Wednesday, July 9. The panel includes a lawyer and an athletes' representative – usually a former competitor.

Jongewaard is Australia's highest ranked mountain biker, but has been left off the squad due to a pending court case hanging over the South Australian's head. The rider is due to answer charges later this year regarding a hit-and-run incident, in which Jongewaard stuck training partner Matthew Rex, leaving Rex with head injuries and in a medically-induced coma for 12 days.

While the incident took place in February 2007, and Rex has since recovered, court proceedings over the charges have been delayed on numerous occasions. The trial is scheduled to take place in December of this year.

"The committee believes it cannot in good faith nominate Chris Jongewaard," a Cycling Australia representative told media last week. "We acknowledge he met the performance criteria but nomination for selection in the Australian team for the Olympic Games is based on more than results."

Jongewaard's case received additional media attention in Australia following the case of Nick D'Arcy, who was thrown off the Australian Olympic swimming squad within days of making the team. D'Arcy was charged with assault after allegedly striking former swimmer Simon Cowley at a Sydney bar on the evening he qualified for the swimming team.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal by the swimmer found that while he had brought the sport into disrepute, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates didn't have the authority alone to remove D'Arcy. The AOC board then took a vote which saw the swimmer striped of his position, a decision upheld by a second CAS hearing.

Graham's lodgement is expected to be a relatively straight-forward selection issue, with the rider hoping to gain selection for the position allocated to 2006 Australian road champion Kate Bates. Graham was one of the Australian National Team members injured in the 2005 training accident which claimed the life of team-mate Amy Gillett in Germany.

If either of the appeals from Jongewaard or Graham is unsuccessful, the individuals can choose to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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