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Blurred lines cannot have anything to do with scores and vendettas . . . can they?

P rompted by last week's column about the bid being made, abortively as it transpired, to let two young Scottish badminton players take a full part in the Commonwealth Games I was sent the following U-tube clip:

Alex Salmond and  Lord Smith of Kelvin, right, flank Caitlin Pringle, a victim of sporting politics
Alex Salmond and Lord Smith of Kelvin, right, flank Caitlin Pringle, a victim of sporting politics

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL81FA734E2682108F

Introducing a wannabe reporter, it starts with him describing his interviewee as "one of our great hopes in badminton" before ending some 90 seconds later with his message: "This is Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, aspirant broadcaster for 2014, signing off from here in Glasgow."

It doubtless looked a good call at the time, but maybe a bit less so now in light of how contentious Caitlin Pringle's selection has now become. She might have been less chirpy had the interview been conducted at today's final team announcement at Stirling Castle, given the rejection of last week's appeal by Badminton Scotland against Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) blocking Pringle and Rebekka Findlay from taking part in the individual events.

Katriona Bush, head of media and PR at CGS, claimed the pair had "been treated consistently and fairly in accordance with processes outlined in the published selection policies". Given the proximity of the Games I was surprised when, asked two supplementary questions, she initially suggested it may take some time to respond because "relevant colleagues" were "away this weekend".

Fair dos, though, Bush did locate said colleagues quite quickly thereafter and provided the admission that badminton is, indeed, the only sport that has not actually agreed to the selection policy imposed upon it.

This is among the stronger Scottish governing bodies, one that earlier this year was vindicated for having stood up for Britain's top two women players - Imogen Bankier and Kirsty Gilmour - who wanted to train in Glasgow rather than be part of the more heavily-funded British programme in Milton Keynes. That GB Badminton are now seeking a new head of performance, following deeply disappointing results, underlines why Badminton Scotland should be respected in such matters.

Central to selection is team dynamic and there is at least one example where - again, deeply contentiously - that is reckoned to have been taken into consideration, with the omission of the exceptional but demanding Lorna Smith, Scottish lawn bowls singles champion in 2012 and 2013, from that sport's elite squad.

Perhaps Alan McMillan, Bowls Scotland's chief executive and a former Sportscotland employee who will understand the politics involved, simply played the system better when agreeing their policy. It should not come down to that, but if so his team management are doubtless grateful to him for finding them such leeway.

As to whether athletes should have had to qualify specifically for every element, I alluded last week to the example of squash, where the official policy was that players had to be in the top 30 in the world rankings or have at least two wins against top-30 players to be selected for singles. Having fulfilled neither of these criteria, Greg Lobban and Kevin Moran are, as emerging talent, contesting the singles on the back of having qualified in the doubles. Lobban is ranked 71st in the world and Moran 141st. Findlay and Pringle are currently 96th in badminton in women's doubles.

There are so many caveats in the various selection policies that, on close reading, every option can be justified. That, though, only shows how much scope there is and why some, rightly or wrongly, suspect badminton has paid a price for refusing to kow-tow to CGS.

It is, of course, hard to believe that anyone would be so petty-minded as to take a grievance out on youngsters, not least "one of our great hopes in badminton", given that many members of this biggest-ever Scotland team have little or no chance of winning medals.

Furthermore, while the absence of detailed reasons for their failed appeal was very strange, Badminton Scotland should possibly be relieved that such a mechanism was open to them. Two years after the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council raised questions about the absence of such processes against decisions taken by public bodies in Scotland, there apparently remains no proper appeals procedure available to sport governing bodies who feel aggrieved by funding decisions.

That may be a separate matter, but it feels relevant given that some would have you believe that certain sports find it easier to get funding than others in this country.

Returning to the main theme, though, whether Findlay and Pringle have been treated fairly or unfairly is ultimately a matter of opinion, but any unwillingness to offer full explanations should always invite scrutiny.

After all, any system that is not transparent and open to challenge provides scope for pursuance of vendettas and delivery of patronage. Obviously we would like to think that is not the case in Scottish sport, particularly in this very important year.

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