Veteran marathon runner Lisa Weightman has decided not to pursue her final appeal regarding the contentious selection process for the Paris 2024 women’s marathon team. This decision solidifies the Australian Olympic marathon team, comprising Sinead Diver, Genevieve Gregson, and Jessica Stenson.

The selection took a dramatic turn when Wide World of Sports revealed that Diver, Gregson, and Stenson were chosen over Weightman, despite her posting the third-fastest qualification time among Australian women. Diver led with a time of 2:21:34, followed by Gregson at 2:23:08, Weightman at 2:23:15, Batt-Doyle at 2:23:27, Stenson at 2:24:01, and Wellings at 2:25:47.

Weightman’s camp initially lodged an intention to appeal with Athletics Australia (AA) just before the deadline, considering taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, the prohibitive legal costs, estimated at $50,000, and the uncertain outcome led to Weightman’s withdrawal from the appeal process. Her manager, Robert Joske, expressed frustration over the situation, highlighting the financial strain and the ethical concerns surrounding AA’s selection process.

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“We have spent tens of thousands of dollars engaging the National Sports Tribunal (NST), which ruled in favor of Lisa. Yet, AA refused to overturn its decision,” Joske stated. “The NST even recommended AA appoint an independent selection committee, but AA rejected this request.”

Joske criticized AA’s handling of the selection, describing it as “disappointing” and “heartbreaking” for Weightman. He emphasized that AA’s decision to select Stenson, who ranked fifth by time, over Weightman, who ranked third, was ethically questionable. The decision to withdraw from the appeal was made reluctantly, as Weightman and her supporters acknowledged the financial and emotional toll of continuing the fight.

 

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 The controversy escalated on social media when Weightman’s husband, Lachlan McArthur, directed a pointed message at Stenson, asking her to remove a background photo featuring his family. This incident underscored the personal strain the selection process has placed on Weightman and her family.

Despite the NST ruling in her favor, Weightman is left grappling with the AA’s refusal to re-evaluate the selection with an independent committee. In a statement provided to Wide World of Sports, Weightman expressed her disappointment:

“Despite winning an appeal at the National Sports Tribunal against my non-nomination for the women’s marathon team, the NST returned the nomination decision to AA for re-determination. The NST was critical of AA’s handling of this nomination decision, including its failure to properly understand or apply its own nomination criteria. However, AA’s original selection committee simply re-affirmed its original decision.”

Weightman, who had the potential to become the first Australian track and field athlete to compete in five Olympic Games, has now shifted her focus. She expressed concern about AA’s internal systems and procedures, fearing that future athletes may face similar injustices.

This selection debacle has raised questions about the transparency and fairness of AA’s processes, casting a shadow over the organization as it prepares for the upcoming Olympics. For now, the team is set, and the spotlight turns to Diver, Gregson, and Stenson as they gear up to represent Australia in Paris.

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