TEHRAN, Iran— An Iranian wrestler says his managers told him to intentionally lose to a Russian competitor to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler in the next round.
Ali Reza Karimi late Monday told the semi-official ISNA news agency that only one minute before the end of a Sunday round of the U-23 World Championship in Poland his coaches told him to throw the match to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler.
He says: “In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end.”
Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and Iranian athletes traditionally refrain from competing against Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behaviour.
Karimi says he was beating Russian Alikhan Zhabrailov when coaches told him to lose.
Iran’s sport ministry in a statement praised Karimi for supporting “human values.”