Iran accused of forcing wrestler to ‘eat too much’ and fail weigh-in ahead of match with Israeli

Iran’s boycott of Israeli athletes continued in Belgrade.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Iranian sporting officials were accused compelling a Greco-Roman wrestler to forfeit a match against an Israeli by forcing him to eat and fail a weigh-in, resulting in a forfeit.

The accusation was leveled by Potkin Azarmehr, a British-Iranian who formerly coached Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team, after learning that Amir Yazdani failed a weigh in on Thursday ahead of a match with Israeli Josh Finesilver.

The two were paired by a random draw to kick off the Belgrade World Champions Tournament in Serbia in the 70 kg weight class.

Azarmehr is currently a London-based investigative journalist.

“Iranian wrestler, Amir Yazdani was due to face an Israeli opponent at Wrestle Belgrade. If he refused Iran wrestling federation would have been banned like Judo. Instead, they overfed him so he didn’t qualify at the weigh-in. Once again Iran managed to get out of a sticky situation,” Potkin tweeted on Thursday.

Another former Iranian Greco-Roman wrestler, Sardar Pashaei explained to the Jerusalem Post how the Iranians would have done it. Peshaei, who is ethnically Kurdish, immigrated to the U.S. over Iranian discrimination against Kurdish athletes.

“It is not the head coaches and athletes who make decisions, but the Iranian security officials who give orders and have the final word in this regard. These security officials are present at all sports competitions including during all foreign travel. In sports camps, dormitories, or at international competitions, they repeat the red lines of the regime,“ Pashaei told the Post.

“They remind the athletes that they are never allowed to be friends or even shake hands with Israeli athletes. I don’t remember any international competition where the security agents didn’t make it unpleasant for us,” he added.

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Fight Library, a website covering combat sports, reported that Iran’s state-run Press TV tweeted that Yazdani “decided to withdraw from the World Wrestling Championships 2022 in Belgrade to avoid facing an Israeli counterpart,” and posted a screenshot of the tweet. Press TV has since deleted the tweet and tweeted a correction.

“Earlier a tweet was published on Press TV’s account about the Iranian wrestler Amir Mohammad Yazdani’s removal from the Serbia championships that was based on misleading reports. Correction: Yazdani has been removed from the championships because of being 300-gram overweight.”