Iran hit with four-year ban by International Judo Federation

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Judo’s world body-  International Judo Federation  issued a four-year ban against the Iranian Judo Federation over Tehran’s demands that its athletes refuse to face Israeli opponents.

The case began when former world champion Saeid Mollaei left the Iranian team in 2019, claiming he was ordered to lose world championship matches to avoid facing Israelis. Mollaei fled to Germany in 2019 and has since switched national eligibility to compete for Mongolia in a move approved by the International Olympic Committee.

The International Judo Federation imposed a four-year ban after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ordered a disciplinary review last month which said a previous indefinite ban was not allowed.

After an Iranian appeal of the initial suspension, the court found that the Iranian federation had “committed severe violations of the IJF rules” on discrimination and should be punished, but ruled that the international body overstepped its authority with the severity of the ban. It sent the case back to an IJF disciplinary panel for review.

The new four-year ban will expire on September 17, 2023. Until the Iranian policy toward Israel changes, its judokas cannot compete at IJF events, including world championships, and officials cannot take part in the world governing body’s work.

The ban does not affect Iranian judokas going to the Tokyo Olympics because that team is sent by the national Olympic body and not the national judo federation.

Iranian officials can again challenge the IJF verdict at CAS.

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