President of Iranian Weightlifting Federation Apologizes for Rio Actions

Today, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) released a report from their most recent Executive Board Meeting and Congress, which took place just before the start of the Youth World Weightlifting Championships in Penang, Malaysia. While the report focused on several procedural announcements and recaps (including from the 2016 Rio Olympics), one of the more intriguing points came at the very end of the article: An official apology from the Iranian Weightlifting Federation for athlete and coach actions in Rio.

An excerpt from the report is quoted below:

The President of the Iranian Weightlifting Federation, Ali Moradi appeared in front of the Executive Board and apologized also on behalf of the athlete, Behdad Salimikordasiabi and his coach Sajjad Anoushiravani for their behavior at the incident that happened in the +105kg competition at the Rio Olympic Games. He said they were extremely sorry and apologized to those concerned. The Executive Board accepted the apology and warned the Iranian Federation that such occurrences should not happen again.

For those who weren’t watching along, the men’s superheavyweight session in Rio created controversy after Iranian lifter and 2012 Olympic Champion Behdad Salimi had two of his clean & jerks turned down by weightlifting officials. The most controversial call, however, was in regard to his second clean & jerk, which was originally passed by the judges (three white lights) and then overturned by the multinational jury. Salimi went on to miss his third and final clean & jerk attempt, leaving him without a total for the competition. (Salimi set a new World Record snatch in that portion of the event.)

The decision caused many Iranian fans to cry foul, and both Salimi and members of the Iranian coaching staff approached the officials’ tables and contributed to an unorthodox scene in the venue while they protested the call. Georgian weightlifting Lasha Talakhadze went on to win the competition and set a new record in the total; Salimi, though seemingly distraught, did congratulate Talakhadze for his achievements.

An appeal by the Iranian Federation to the Court of Arbitration for Sports was later denied.

Several days later, hackers sympathizing with Salimi hacked the IWF’s website, causing it to be temporarily taken offline.

Moradi’s action in Penang is the first official apology we’ve seen from the Iranian Weightlifting Federation concerning the behavior of his country’s athletes and coaches in Rio.

Featured image: @iwfnet on Instagram