A JUDO ace claims he was dropped from the British Olympic team because he faced a court case for assault.
Karl Etherington, 36, had been on the British shortlist for the heavyweight class.
But he says when he was accused of punching a guest at a boxing dinner he was told he was no longer going to be picked.
After the case against him was dropped yesterday Etherington (right) said: “Being told I was no longer being selected for the team was the saddest day of my life.
“I feel it was unfair as at my age I will never get the chance again.”
Etherington of Blackpool Road, Lytham St Annes, was accused of assaulting Lee Khan at the dinner at the De Vere Hotel last year.
The dinner was attended by boxing legend Smokin’ Joe Frazier and one of Khan’s friends was involved in an after -dinner bout which he won.
Blackpool Magistrates heard how Khan became angry because his friend was not awarded a winner’s belt.
Etherington – who organised the event – was alleged to have punched Khan.
But the case against Etherington was dismissed when the complainant and witnesses failed to attend Etherington’s trial.
The court was told there were 300 people in the room on the night and no one called the police and no-one made a complaint until months later.
After the magistrates dismissed the case Etherington added: “This has been hanging over my head for a long time. As far as the Olympic team is concerned I’ve had it .”
“At my age it would have been my last chance to compete in the Games. I have a cage-fighting contract to take up now and will concentrate on that.”