JUDO Panorama: Iran’s suspension confirmed by the IJF Ethics Panel

Iran's 2018 World Judo Champion Saeid Mollaei in happier days (Photo: IJF)

The continuing drama over the contrived losses by Iran’s defending World 81 kg Champion Saeid Mollaei at the 2019 World Championships so as to prevent him from fighting eventual winner Sagi Muki of Israel has now resulted in the confirmation of the suspension of the Iran Judo Federation.

The International Judo Federation posted the decision of the IJF Disciplinary Commission on Tuesday (22nd), including:


“– To pronounce against the Iran Judo Federation a suspension from all competitions, administrative and social activities organized or authorized by the IJF and its Unions, until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and prove that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes …”

The decision included a review of the facts and findings of the case, including:

“Mr. Saeid MOLLAEI’s allegations are confirmed by the statement of Mr. Abdullo MURADOV, who speaks Farsi and who was together with the athlete during the World Championship in Tokyo and who clearly confirmed that the athlete received a phone call, from 1st Deputy Minister of Sport of Iran and a video chat and a phone call from the Iran National Olympic Committee’s President asking to the athlete not to fight in order to avoid a contest against the Israeli athlete.”

● The Commission noted the 9 May 2019 letter from the Iranian federation, declaring “‘…by means of this letter, we would like to confirm that the I.R. Iran NOC shall fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle and the I.R. Iran Federation shall fully comply with the Olympic Charter and the IJF Statutes…’ and yet, the situation exposed by the athlete is in gross contradiction with the content of this letter.”

Although Mollaei was instructed not to fight, he did compete – and lost – in his semifinal match and then in the bronze-medal match and finished fifth.

The Iranian federation now has 21 days to appeal the decision, if it wishes to, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

With this decision, the way is open for the International Olympic Committee to take action against Iran if it wishes to do so. Will it?