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A comparison of the Olympic selection procedures for British Cycling, Athletics and Swimming

Tuesday, 17 May 2016 By Nicholas Siddall

This article analyses the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games selection criteria for British athletes in the disciplines of Cycling, Athletics and Swimming and seeks to identify themes, trends and the scope for potential challenge. It does not address the appeals process which shall be the subject of a later article.



In an admirably concise document,1 British Cycling has published its criteria for selection. It states that selection decisions shall occur week commencing 13 June 2016. The stated aim of the policy is:

to ensure only the most competitive athletes are selected and that the maximum number of cycling medals are won.

Clearly a laudable goal but how does this translate into the nuts and bolts of selection?

The composition of the selection panel

The composition of the panel is set out in some detail. It is the Team Great Britain Selection Panel (TGBSP) that will be chaired by a member of the Great Britain Cycling Team Senior Management Team (GBCT SMT). A minimum of two further selection panel members will be nominated by the GBCT SMT, who may include but are not restricted to members of the GBCT SMT, coaching staff and expert advisers.

Selections shall be made by majority decision of the TGBSP. In addition to voting members, there will be an independent individual appointed by the Chief Executive of British Cycling, who will not have voting rights but will be present to supervise procedures and to ensure that due process is followed.

How is selection to be determined?

The criteria are interesting in that they contain something of a heady mix between objectively determinable characteristics and subjective value judgments that may be ripe for disagreement or challenge. This is made plain by the preamble that states:

All TGB selections will be discretionary and based on the professional judgement of the TGBSP in light of the primary objective of the selection criteria (as outlined above).

Despite the presence of published criteria the document opaquely states:

When making its decision, the selection panel will consider the following factors, in any order and with appropriate weighting that the selection panel sees fit.

The Stated Criteria

  • An athlete’s UCI World Ranking, 2015 and current (up until June 5th 2016)
  • International race performances in the following periods;
    • Track: October 1st 2015 –June 5th 2016
    • Road: Jan 1st 2016-June 5th 2016
    • MTB: May 1st 2015–June 5th 2016
    • BMX: July 1st 2015–June 5th 2016
  • Training performances in the period January 1st 2016 up to selection date.
  • Specific nature of the Rio 2016 courses (road race, road time trial, MTB and BMX).
  • The profile of athletes already selected to ensure optimal team composition.
  • Young exceptional athletes who will benefit from an Olympic experience and are considered to be competitive in 2016 and medal prospects for 2020.
  • To be eligible for selection for a team event (Team Pursuit, Team Sprint) a rider must demonstrate commitment to, and co-operate in, planned team training sessions as identified by coaches.
  • The team size restrictions may result in some “doubling up” in events.
  • Any other points the selection panel deems necessary

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Written by

Nicholas Siddall

Nicholas Siddall

Nicholas is a member of Littleton’s sports law team and accepts instructions from individuals and organisations in the ordinary courts and the relevant tribunals. Nicholas is an appointed panel member for Sports Resolutions who are the leading sports appeals/arbitration service. 

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