Swede throws down medal, faces probe

BEIJING (Reuters) - Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian threw down his bronze medal in protest at the refereeing on Thursday after his bid for greco-roman gold failed and now faces an International Olympic Committee (IOC) hearing.

Ara Abrahamian of Sweden (R) argues with referee Jean-Marc Petoud of Switzerland (L) as his coach Leo Myllar watches after Abrahamian's 84kg men's Greco-Roman wrestling semi-final match against Andrea Minguzzi of Italy at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

Abrahamian took the bronze from around his neck during the medal ceremony for the 84kg competition, stepped from the podium and dropped it in the middle of the wrestling mat then walked off.

His coach denounced his defeat in the semi-final as a result of “politics”.

“I don’t care about this medal. I wanted gold,” Abrahamian said, adding that he would retire from the sport.

“There will be a disciplinary hearing on this matter,” an IOC official told Reuters. It was not clear when the hearing would take place.

If the IOC considers his explanations are not sufficient or if it rules he has brought his sport into disrepute he could risk being formally stripped of his medal.

A bitter Abrahamian, silver medalist at Athens 2004, announced he was quitting the sport after his bronze medal bout.

“This will be my last match. I wanted to take gold, so I consider this Olympics a failure,” the 33-year-old said.

The Swedish wrestler had to be restrained by team mates when a row erupted with judges over the decision in the semi-final bout with Andrea Minguzzi of Italy, who went on the take gold.

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Abrahamian shouted at the referee and judges then went over to their seats to speak to them up close. He angrily threw off the restraining arm of a team official then turned and left.

Swedish fans booed loudly as the judges filed out of the arena. Abrahamian said nothing to waiting reporters but whacked an aluminum barricade with his fist as he left the hall.


The gold medalist, who kissed the Chinese medal bearer after receiving his gold, said Abrahamian’s walkout “did in a way spoil the victory ceremony for me”.

“Certainly one can always question decisions made in the course of refereeing, but in sports it is appropriate to show sportsmanship and accept the results,” Minguzzi said.

Hungary’s Zoltan Fodor, an outsider who said he “never dreamed of reaching the final” won the silver.

Abrahamian said he believed his loss to the eventual gold medalist Minguzzi was “totally unjustified”. The wrestler said his friends “called me just 20 minutes before the (bronze) competition, begging me to compete”.

“I decided that I had come this far and didn’t want to let them down, so I wrestled,” he said.

Swedish coach Leo Myllari said: “It’s all politics.”

Myllari did not say if he intended to lodge a formal protest over the decision by referee Jean-Marc Petoud of Switzerland, judge Lee Ronald Mackay of Canada, and mat chairman Guillermo Orestes Molina of Cuba.

Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Keith Weir