Tristan Woodfine‘s appeal to be named to the Canadian Olympic marathon team has officially been rejected, which means the original team of Trevor Hofbauer, Cam Levins and Ben Preisner will remain unchanged.
Early in June, Athletics Canada (AC) announced the three women and three men who were selected to represent Canada in the marathon at the Olympics this summer. Unlike in past years, this time there were five women and four men who had all run under Olympic standard in the event (2:29:30 for women and 2:11:30 for men), which meant that three of these athletes would be left off the team. Woodfine was among this group, and after learning he had not been selected, he made an appeal to have AC reconsider the decision, but his appeal was denied.
Woodfine ran 2:10:51 at the London Marathon in October 2020, a personal best by over two minutes. Many thought this would all but guarantee him a spot on the Olympic team, but in December 2020 Preisner ran 2:10:17 at The Marathon Project in Arizona, and several months later, Levins (the Canadian record holder in the marathon) ran 2:10:14 in Austria. Thanks to his win in the 2019 Canadian Olympic Marathon Trials (where he ran 2:09:51), Hofbauer’s spot on the team was never up for grabs.
According to his four-page appeal, Woodfine believed AC’s decision was based on incomplete information, contradictory reasoning and use of results outside of the qualifying window and at non-marathon events. “AC didn’t present complete information on Tristan Woodfine’s history or performance progression, and they ignored and/or minimized information that was critical to Woodfine’s case,” the document stated.
The appeal also accused AC of having a preferential bias toward Levins, saying officials are in consistent contact with him, which gives them more intimate knowledge to explain poor performances.
“However, since AC is not in consistent contact with Preisner or Woodfine, they cannot know of circumstances surrounding their performances,” the report continued. “All athletes face obstacles during training but the NTC has used their more intimate knowledge of Levins to explain poor performances while having no information on the difficulties the other athletes may have dealt with leading into their performances.”
Levins struggled to repeat the success of his 2018 Canadian record-breaking performance of 2:09:25. He was in both the London Marathon where Woodfine ran the time he was counting on to cement his position on Team Canada, and the Marathon Project, where Preisner ran 2:10:17 in his debut. Levins DNF’d in London and finished well behind Preisner in Arizona, in 2:12:15. But ultimately his 2:10:14 performance in Austria was considered sufficient to overrule Woodfine’s objections.
After hearing Woodfine’s concerns, AC commissioner Frank Fowlie rejected his appeal. “In my review of the materials, I have seen no evidence of a conflict of interest, bias or improper consideration or ignorance of information by the NTC,” he said in his closing remarks. “Thus, the issue I am primarily concerned with is whether the selection process was followed, was fair and whether the decision is reasonable.”
This means the team of Hofbauer, Levins and Preisner will remain, with Woodfine as the alternate in the event that one of those three men is unable to compete. “Tristan is evidently a marathon runner who excels in the sport,” Fowlie added. “It is an accomplishment for him to have made the Olympic standard, and to have been named as an alternate to the Canadian Olympic Athletics Squad.”