Abrahamian stripped of bronze medal

BEIJING (Reuters) - Swedish greco-roman wrestler Ara Abrahamian has been stripped of his 84kg-category bronze medal after he threw it down in protest at the refereeing, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Saturday.

It said his action went against the spirit of fair play, insulted his fellow competitors and constituted a demonstration, which is banned inside Olympic venues.

During the wrestling medal ceremony, Abrahamian took the bronze from around his neck after beating Melonin Noumonvi of France, stepped from the podium, dropped it in the middle of the wrestling mat and then walked off.

The IOC said the athlete, who announced his retirement after his bronze medal bout, was disqualified, stripped of his medal as well as his Olympic accreditation. It said no athlete would be upgraded to take his bronze medal.

It ordered the Swedish Olympic Committee to enforce the decision which meant Abrahamian would have no access to any Olympic venues or the athletes’ village.

It also ordered the wrestling federation to take any further action as it saw fit.

Abrahamian’s coach had denounced his defeat in the semi-final as a result of “politics”.

Slideshow ( 7 images )

The IOC said it understood the frustration Abrahamian may have felt about the judging but his protest and the fact that during the disciplinary hearing he never apologized for his action, were unacceptable.

“The awards ceremony is a highly symbolic ritual. Any disruption by any athlete, in particular a medalist, is in itself an insult to the other athletes and to the Olympic Movement. It is also contrary to the spirit of fair play,” it said.

“It should be noted that, in front of the disciplinary commission, the athlete never expressed any regret, nor did he offer any apology for his actions,” the IOC said.

The Swedish wrestler, a silver medalist in Athens, 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.

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.

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

Editing by Alison Williams