Iran wrestling officials resign over Israel competition ban


In this file photo taken on August 20, 2016 shows USA's J'den Michael Tbory Cox (red) wrestling with Iran's Alireza Mohammad Karimi Mashiani during the wrestling event of the Rio 2016 Olympic GamesImage copyright

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Karimachiani, right, was praised by Iran’s Supreme Leader for throwing the match that led to his ban

The head of Iran’s wrestling federation has resigned after criticising authorities for letting players be punished because of the country’s ban on athletes competing against Israel.

Rasoul Khadem, an Olympic gold medallist, was re-elected as the Iranian Wrestling Federation head only two months ago.

Other council members have also reportedly resigned.

Iran does not recognise the state of Israel.

Wrestler Alireza Karimachiani was banned for six months after throwing a match to avoid an Israeli opponent last year.

Earlier this month, Mr Khadem criticised Iranian authorities for their stance on Israeli opponents, and called for a “fundamental solution” to the ongoing problem.

“Forcing an athlete to accept defeat or run around all night looking for a doctor’s note is not right,” he said.

He suggested he was forced from the post in a cryptic letter posted on the body’s website on Wednesday.

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After news of Khadem’s departure, the councils for freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling announced they were resigning on-masse, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

“Khadem has sacrificed himself for wrestling and since he has stepped down, there is no point for us to remain in our post,” Hossein Marashian, a member of the wrestling committee told ISNA.

Karimachiani was winning a match against his Russian opponent in November’s under-23 world championships when his coach ordered him to lose, the United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber said.

The coach was given a two-year ban by the sport’s international body in response.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the wrestler for throwing the bout in a statement released in December.

Dozens of Iranian athletes have boycotted competitions against Israeli competitors since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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