Iran Judo Federation banned for instructing athlete to avoid Israeli rival

The Iran Judo Federation (IRIJF) has been given a four-year ban by the International Judo Federation (IJF) after officials instructed judoka Saeid Mollaei to avoid an Israeli athlete at the 2019 world championships.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) heard that Mollaei had lost numerous first round matches in tournaments where he was on course to potentially face Israel’s Sagi Muki. Mollaei was then told by the Iranian government to withdraw from the world championships where Muki was competing.

The ban comes after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted the original sanction of an indefinite suspension after they said “sanctions compliant with the IJF regulations should be imposed”.

A ruling from Cas in March then came to the conclusion that “the IRIJF could validly be imposed a suspension or an expulsion”, a decision which has subsequently led to the IJF provisionally withdrawing Iran’s membership from 18 September 2019 until 17 September 2023.

Following their decision, the IJF Disciplinary Commission said: “In view of the repeated and very severe breaches of the IJF statutes and the fundamental principles of Olympism committed by IRIJF as acknowledged by the CAS panel, the Disciplinary Commission considers that the status of IJF member of IRIJF should be provisionally withdrawn (with all affiliate components) for a period of four years, i.e. a full Olympiad.

“As the IRIJF has already served a period of (protective) suspension from September 18 2019 as per the Disciplinary Commission’s decision of even date and the subsequent decision of October 22 2019, the Disciplinary Commission finds it appropriate under article 13 of the IJF Disciplinary Code that the start date of the provisional withdrawal be backdated to September 18 2019.

“The Disciplinary Commission considers that this sanction, especially given the backdating and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic (which led to no competition being organised for most of 2020), is proportionate to the extremely severe offenses committed by IRIJF.”

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