Hodonin, South Moravia, June 23 (CTK) – Martina Sablikova, the Czech triple speed-skating Olympic winner, hoped to take part in the women’s time trial road cycling race at the Rio Olympic Games, but her dream seems unlikely to come true, she said after winning the Czech time trial championship in Hodonin yesterday.
“I must admit that I don’t feel very well. There is always hope, but I don’t believe it anymore,” Sablikova told journalists about the possibility of racing in Rio.
After Sablikova was ninth in the time trial at the road cycling world championship last September, both she and the Czech Olympic Committee (COV) were taken by surprise by the international cycling union UCI’s decision that she has not qualified for the Olympic time trial. According to the rules, the ten best countries in the time trial were to qualify. However, it turned out that only qualified participants in a road cycling mass-start event can qualify for the Olympic time trial.
Sablikova said she promised to the COV to keep training for the Olympic event to the last moment anyway.
She said she would not tell who is to blame for her unfortunate situation according to her. “I don’t want to say something which I might regret later on,” she said.
Most of all, she would feel sorry that she could not experience the atmosphere of the Games, said Sablikova who already competed at three Winter Olympics.
Her coach Petr Novak said he was ready to take the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“It took us eight years of work. If it does not end well, it will be a big disappointment for me,” Novak said about the failure to qualify to Rio.
Jan Stovicek, a Czech expert in sport legislation, told CTK that the probability of Sablikova’s case ending up at the Court of Arbitration for Sport is 99 percent.
“We must do our utmost to use all the possibilities to get her to the Olympics,” Stovicek said on behalf of the COV.
He said the Italian federation has a similar dispute with UCI.
“They, too, believed after the world championship that their racing cyclist Francesco Ceci qualified, but UCI told them that he did not,” Stovicek said.
In the Czech case, the arbitration would be meaningful only if UCI agreed with shortened proceedings. Otherwise Sablikova would miss the Rio Olympics in August anyway.