Aaron Cook, the world No 1 taekwondo fighter controversially omitted from the British Olympic team this summer, admits he may be forced to switch nationalities if he is to compete at the Rio Games in 2016.
The Dorchester-born athlete claims he has no future under the current British Taekwondo regime and has accused the organisation’s president, Adrian Tranter, performance director Gary Hall and coach Steven Jennings of running a “dictatorship”.
“I want to win gold in Rio and, ideally, I’d love it to be for Great Britain but as it stands at the moment with the likes of Gary Hall, Steven Jennings and Adrian Tranter involved, there is just no possible way that I can work with these people,” he said.
“Unless they resign or someone takes them out of the equation, it’s going to be impossible to work with them. In the worst-case scenario, I’ve got to look at another country. If that’s the only way I can win gold in Rio, then that’s what I’ve got to do.”
Cook believes his omission from the Olympic team was down to politics following his decision in 2011 to quit the sport’s World Class Performance Programme and go it alone. Lutalo Muhammad, who was ranked 56th in the world, was selected ahead of him for London in the -80kg division.
Muhammad lost his opening fight before coming through the repechage to win a bronze medal, but Cook is still smarting from a sense of injustice.