BRITAIN was facing an Olympic embarrassment last night after a North-East water polo star vowed to move to Australia because of “broken promises and unfair treatment”.
Only a month before the London Games, Scott Carpenter says he would rather move to the other side of the world than compete for a country that has turned its back on him.
Carpenter, 24, from Sedgefield, County Durham, 7was Britain’s leading goalscorer for five seasons in a row, but claims he was not included in the Olympic squad that was announced yesterday because he fell out with British Water Polo when the governing body reneged on an agreement to provide him with financial support.
A British Water Polo official denied there had been any discrimination, even though the GB coach, Christian Iordache, had previously argued for Carpenter’s inclusion in the squad.
The latest row comes on the back of a major controversy involving taekwondo star Aaron Cook, who is taking his case over his non-selection for London 2012 to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Carpenter will now return to one of his previous clubs in Australia and apply for Australian citizenship ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Carpenter said: “I’ve been let down too many times now. I’ve sacrificed so much to represent my country at the Olympics, but it’s all been thrown back in my face. It’s been two years of broken promises and unfair treatment.
“I had my last face-to-face meeting with the GB coach two weeks ago, and he admitted that my exclusion was down to political rather than sporting reasons. Surely that can’t be right?”
His problems began two years ago when he was offered the opportunity to join Spanish water polo side Barcelona.
He claims British Water Polo agreed to help fund his move, but no money was ever forthcoming.
When he asked why, he was told the financial situation had changed and he would no longer be receiving any funding.
At that stage, he was also informed Britain would not be fielding a water polo team at the Olympics, so he travelled back to Spain to honour his contract and was unable to pay for flights to attend training and matches in England.
Last summer, the British Olympic Association confirmed Britain would be represented in Olympic water polo, and Mr Iordache contacted Carpenter to request that he rejoin the team.
Carpenter agreed, but British Water Polo blocked the move and effectively ended his international career, even though he was the only British player deemed good enough to play in a major European league.
He said: “I was left out in the cold, even though I had done nothing wrong. I would love to have played for Great Britain in 2010 and 2011, but couldn’t afford to come back from Spain because British Water Polo hadn’t come up with the money they said they were going to give me.”
Carpenter spent last season playing for Australian side Victoria Tigers, but as recently as April, his former Great Britain team-mates were begging him to return to the fray.
He said: “They’ve been drawn in a tough group and I think they know they need all the help they can get. I would love to help them, who wouldn’t want to represent Britain in the London Olympics? But unfortunately that’s not going to happen.”
A British Water Polo spokesman said: “Although he had withdrawn from the British Water Polo squad some time ago, we are aware that Scott had recently indicated he wished to be considered for selection.
We have been asking Scott to meet with representatives of the programme and after Scott considered this for some time, we understand he has now agreed to a meeting which is yet to take place.”