Iran has been suspended from the International Judo Federation for ordering an athlete to deliberately lose. Saeid Mollaei said he was told to throw his semi-final rather than risk facing an Israeli in the final.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) on Wednesday said it had suspended Iran from international competition after serious allegations were raised.
The IJF said it had "strong reason to believe that the Iran Judo Federation will continue or repeatedly engage in misconduct."
Saeid Mollaei, who entered last month's world championships in Tokyo, said he was ordered to throw his semi-final rather than risk facing an Israeli in the final. He said he has been ordered to withdraw from the competition at an even earlier stage to avoid suspicion that the bout had been thrown for competitive reasons.
The 27-year-old Mollaei — who had gone into the event as reigning champion for his weight category — lost to Belgian Matthias Casse, who in turn lost to Sagi Muki of Israel in the final.
After he finished fifth in Tokyo, Mollaei fled to Berlin.
"I certainly can’t go back to Iran after all of the lies about me that were spread by the Iranian media and functionaries," Mollaei said in an interview with DW last week. "This is why I came to Germany after the World Championships, to recover and to gain perspective on what has happened."
A filmmaker close to Mollaei's family said that they had been threatened.
"If an athlete fails to comply with these orders, he and his family are 100% sure to get into trouble. Even now, I don’t know what my family's situation is."
Mollaei told DW he had been given assurances by the IJF that he would be able to compete at the next Olympic Games, either under the International Olympic Committee flag or that of another country.
The alleged throwing of games stems from Iran's unwillingness to have its athletes compete with Israeli rivals. Since Iran's Islamic 1979 revolution, the two nations have been bitter arch-rivals and Tehran does not recognize Israel as a country.
There have been examples of Iranian athletes being told to lose so as to avoid pairings with Israeli opponents in other sports. Most notable was wrestler Alireza Karimi, who was suspended for six months.
rc/msh (AP, Reuters)