Accused: Daniel Koum. Photo: Jason South
WEIGHTLIFTER Daniel Koum, sensationally accused of holding his own team to ransom in the lead-up to the Olympics, may avoid any action over the alleged incident as legal technicalities prevent the Australian Weightlifting Federation from trying to enforce potential sanctions.
The 26-year-old Victorian was at the centre of a pre-Olympic storm after being accused of demanding a cash sum of $5000 or refusing to lift in a key qualifying event in Samoa.
If he had not taken part, Australia's sole male spot for London - eventually taken by Brisbane superheavyweight Damon Kelly - would have been sacrificed.
The former Cameroon citizen did not deny taking the cash, but strenuously denied the AWF's version of events. The legal firm acting on his behalf has sent letters to a number of lifters and Australian officials threatening defamation action.
The weightlifting fraternity was outraged at Koum's alleged behaviour but any sanctions against him now appear, at best, distant.
Advice to the weightlifting federation from its lawyer, Glenn Ferguson, indicated the governing body had no jurisdiction over individuals due to its constitutional structure.
The onus has now fallen to the Victorian Weightlifting Association to begin proceedings against Koum, although it's not legally clear how a state body could sanction a national athlete for an incident that took part in a Pacific island nation.
Koum's lawyer, Martin Reid, said the behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvres were continuing and he hoped there would be an outcome that enabled Koum to continue his lifting career. ''We're still negotiating. The matter is still ongoing,'' Reid said.
Despite remaining squarely at odds with the AWF, Koum has received a new contract from the federation that is yet to be signed.