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Divers lose appeal to compete in Olympics

Laura Wilkinson and her diving partner Jessica Livingston have lost their appeal to compete in 10-meter synchronized platform diving at the Beijing Olympics.
Laura Wilkinson
Laura Wilkinson and her diving partner, Jessica Livingston, lost their appeal to compete in 10-meter synchronized platform diving at the Beijing Olympics.Michael Conroy / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Laura Wilkinson and her diving partner Jessica Livingston lost their appeal Saturday to compete in 10-meter synchronized platform diving at the Beijing Olympics.

An arbitrator ruled to keep 15-year-olds Haley Ishimatsu and Mary Beth Dunnichay as the synchro platform team for next month’s games.

Wilkinson and Livingston had filed a complaint against USA Diving and the U.S. Olympic Committee asking to be placed on the team or have another competition to see if they or Ishimatsu and Dunnichay should compete in Beijing.

Details of Friday’s confidential American Arbitration Association hearing were not disclosed, although USA Diving called the decision “a strong ruling.”

“USA Diving is extremely pleased by the arbitrator’s decision supporting our selection procedures, the process and the selectors’ decision,” USA Diving chief executive officer Debbie Hesse said in a statement Saturday. “We hope our athletes and coaches can move past this and form a strongly bonded team at the Olympic Games.”

Telephone and e-mail messages left for Wilkinson by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Saturday.

In their complaint, attorneys for Wilkinson and Livingston said USA Diving’s selection criteria was too broadly drawn to meet the standard required by the USOC for team selection proceedings.

The younger duo was named to the Olympic team after they split four rounds with Wilkinson and Livingston at a selection camp earlier this month in Knoxville, Tenn.

Wilkinson and Livingston had a higher average score for the four contests, 329.88 points to 327.32.

But Ishimatsu and Dunnichay were chosen because they had the best individual score (346.98) of the four rounds of dives and because they had a higher score under a formula known as “projected competition score,” according to the complaint.

Wilkinson and Livingston said the committee violated its own procedures and the use of the projected competition score is less effective than the average score in making a selection.

Hesse said a final score was not the sole determining factor in selecting athletes to the team. Divers were evaluated on such factors as average scores, best list scores, projected competition scores, degree of difficulty and past performances.

Wilkinson and Livingston finished fourth in platform synchro at a World Cup meet in the Olympic pool earlier this year. Ishimatsu and Dunnichay were eighth at the same meet.

Hesse said the selection procedures were reviewed “in great detail” by USA Diving and the USOC, with both groups approving.

“All USA Diving athletes and coaches have been aware of these selection procedures and criteria for more than a year and a half,” she said, adding that a USOC representative was privy to the selectors’ discussions at the camp.

USA Diving changed its selection process for Beijing, choosing the synchro teams at the camp instead of at the trials. That’s where Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic platform champion, earned a spot in the individual platform competition in Beijing by winning the trials.

Ishimatsu and Wilkinson, along with the rest of the 12-member Olympic team, are scheduled to attend the U.S. national championships in Pasadena beginning Tuesday.