The Oxbridge boat race committee has refused to award a Cambridge rower a Blue after he failed to complete his academic course and instead returned to the German national team to prepare for the Beijing Olympics.
Thorsten Engelmann, a former World Championships silver medallist, left during the second year of his economics degree, making him the first Boat Race participant in decades to not receive a Blue despite helping his team to victory.
Engelmann’s departure was in breach of a Joint Understanding between the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs, which states that all members of the crew must be enrolled and residing at either University for the full academic year in which the race takes place. The rules are intended to avoid either university ‘parachuting in’ international rowers merely to win the Boat Race.
The Vice-Chancellors of both universities are rumoured to have discussed the matter and lawyers have been consulted for suitable action.
OUBC President Nick Brodie condemned Cambridge for knowingly allowing Engelmann’s participation. “Cambridge admitted to us that on the day of the race he knew he would not, and nor did he intend to complete his course, hence a blatant breach of the rules,” he said. “At the end of the  day we were the second boat to cross the finish line and this will always be the case, however according to the rules we were the first eligible crew to cross the finish line.”
Both clubs intend to pursue the matter further and will be meeting several times in coming months to reach a resolution.
“As President of OUBC this year I will ensure that this matter is properly addressed and not merely swept under the rug with the removal of a Blue, not only for last year’s boat but because it is my duty to uphold the standards and traditions of the Boat Race,” he said.
Chairman of the Boat Race Company Ltd, Giles Vardey, said in a statement, “It is our job to protect the integrity of the Race. The organisers of the Boat Race and the University Boat Clubs are guardians of one of the greatest amateur sporting events in the world.
“We all view very seriously any behaviour that is inconsistent with Boat Race traditions,” he added.
Engelmann was unavailable for comment at time of going to press.