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Six month ban for Iranian wrestler who deliberately lost to avoid match with Israel

Alireza Karimi was on orders to miss the semi-final against Israel's Uri Kalashnikov

    Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi in a bout with US rival Michael Tbory Cox (in the red) during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics
    Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi in a bout with US rival Michael Tbory Cox (in the red) during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics (Photo: Getty Images)

    An Iranian wrestler has been banned for six months for throwing a bout to avoid facing an Israeli rival.

    Alireza Karimi was leading Russia's Alikhan Zhabrailov 3-2 in the 86kg freestyle quarter-final at the Under-23 World Championships in November.

    But after controversially being ordered to lose, Karimi deliberately conceded points to lose 14-3 in order to miss out on a semi-final against Israel's Uri Kalashnikov.

    His coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was also suspended from the sport for two years.

    Iran does not recognise the state of Israel and forbids its athletes from competing against Israelis at international sporting events.

    A United World Wrestling statement said: "Karimi, on instruction of his coach Jamshidi, wilfully lost his quarter-finals match against Alikhan Zhabrailov.

    "Both wrestler and coach were found to have acted in direct violation of the International Wrestling Rules and the UWW Disciplinary Regulations."

    Karimi allowed himself to be felled by Zhabrailov and repeatedly conceded two points while rolling over with his legs held. 

    Wrestling is hugely popular in Iran and at the time, the country's government paid tribute to Karimi, branding him "a source of pride and praise".

    Karimi's ban ends on May 23, although the ban only applies to international matches, leaving him free to wrestle domestically.

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