Iran suspended from judo competitions

International Judo Federation suspends Iran for forcing Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei to throw a match in order to avoid Israeli.

Elad Benari ,

Saeid Mollaei
Saeid Mollaei

The Iran Judo Federation has been suspended from all competitions after forcing Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei to withdraw from the World Judo Championships, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Mollaei said earlier this month he was forced to throw a match in Tokyo in order to avoid the possibility of competing against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki in the final.

The 27-year-old ignored those warnings and after losing in the semifinals of the competition -- a result he says was affected by the emotional stress caused by the Iran officials request -- travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum.

According to the International Judo Federation (IJF), Iranian judo's governing body was in breach of multiple codes, including the Olympic Charter.

The IJF Disciplinary Commission ruled that because of the repeated actions of the Iran federation, it has "strong reason to believe that the Iran Judo Federation will continue or repeatedly engage in misconduct or commit any other offence against the legitimate interests, principles or objectives of the IJF."

The "protective suspension" will begin on September 18 and will encompass all "competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorized by International Judo Federation and its unions."

The decision is subject to appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Iran Judo Federation has 21 days to appeal against the decision.

Mollaei is hardly the first Iranian to avoid an Israeli in a sports competition, as the Islamic Republic has a long-time policy in this regard.

In 2010, an Iranian contestant withdrew from a Taekwondo match against Israel’s Gili Haimovitz, who won a gold medal by default.

In 2012, Iranian athletes announced their intention to boycott competitions against Israelis at the London Olympics.

Two years ago, two Iranian players were criticized in their home country after they appeared for their Greek club Panionios in a Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Iran forced Mollaei to throw a match even though the IJF and Iran reached an agreement in May which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.