Iran banned after ordering Saeid Mollaei to withdraw from World Judo Championships

Saeid Mollaei
Saeid Mollaei (right) lost in the semi-finals of the World Judo Championships

Iran has been banned by the International Judo Federation after it ordered Saeid Mollaei to pull out of the World Championships in Japan.

Defending champion Mollaei ignored calls to withdraw from his match against Russia's Khasan Khalmurzaev to avoid the prospect of facing Israel's Sagi Muki later in the tournament.

Iranian athletes are prohibited from competing in any sport against Israel.

Mollaei lost in the semi-finals and has since been living in Germany.

Earlier in 2019, the National Olympic Committee of Iran had said it would comply with the Olympic charter and the International Judo Federation (IJF), paving the way for Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis.

But the IJF said Iran's actions at the World Championships in Japan were a "gross contradiction" to these assurances.

The case was referred to the IJF Disciplinary Commission, who said there was a "strong reason to believe that the Iran Judo Federation will continue or repeatedly engage in misconduct or commit any other offence against the legitimate interests, principles or objectives of the IJF".

Iran can appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

After the tournament Mollaei said he feared for his family's safety.

Speaking to the BBC Persian Service earlier this week, he said: "In Tokyo I left the arena with tears in my eyes.

"I will never forget what happened there. I could have achieved my third world championship medal and my second gold medal. I was so ready and prepared for this."

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