Iranian swimmer refused to race Israeli

A member of the Iranian swimming team has dived out of an international contest because of the presence of an Israeli athlete in the race.

Mohammed Alirezaei refused to compete in the 100-metre breaststroke race at the International Federation (FINA) swimming contest on Sunday. An Israeli, Gal Nevo, had been due to swim in the same heat.

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said they were looking into the situation, but he added: "If this is the case there's no point in [Iran] coming to the world championships. We don't need these politics in our sport."

The head of the Israeli delegation, Yitzhak Kramer, told AP that he was used to such things spoiling sporting events.

But he said it would not dampen his team's spirit. "If someone wants to behave like a child we don't care." Mr Nevo came 45th out of 83 people in the race; unfortunately not high enough to qualify for the semi-final.

In November 2010 an Iranian weightlifter, Hossein Khodadadi, refused to shake hands with his opponent after an Israeli won the World Masters Weightlifting Championship.

It was not enough of a statement for the head of Iran's Physical Education Committee – who promptly banned him from the team for competing against an Israeli.

Last updated: 5:24pm, July 25 2011