Tehran-based Merh News is reporting that the Iranian Weightlifting Federation will file an application with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in response to events during the men’s superheavyweight A session at the Rio Olympics.
Iranian lifter and 2012 London Olympic Champion Behdad Salimi snatched a new World Record 216kg during the snatch portion of the event. During the clean & jerk portion, his first lift at 245kg was turned down by the judges. In a move that has since created a large outcry from Iranian fans, Salimi’s second attempt was originally given three white lights and then overturned by the international jury for a press-out; the five-member jury has final say in the event of a disagreement with the three judges.
Salimi missed his third and final attempt at 245kg during the clean.
Many spectators, viewers, and broadcast announcers seemed to agree with the jury’s decision. However, many of Salimi’s fans instantly took to social media and suggested the jury’s actions were part of a larger conspiracy against Iranian weightlifting. The International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) website was temporarily down after a hack from Salimi’s fans, and the IWF’s Instagram post featuring the superheavyweight podium currently has over 1 million comments, most of them claiming Salimi was robbed and using the hashtag #BehdadSalimi.
Superheavyweight champion Lasha Talakhadze‘s Instagram posts were also inundated with comments from Iranian weightlifting fans, and he has since deleted most of his posts and made his account private. Talakhadze made all six lifts during the session to finish with a world record total of 473kg.
Merh News quotes Iranian official Kiyoumars Hashemi, responding in the aftermath of the session:
“[A]ll experts of weightlifting saw on night of August 16 the scope of bias and partiality of the juries under the illegal influence by the head of Asian Weightlifting Federation who had been sitting just behind the jury members; after all 3 lights were white, thus approving Salimi’s second attempt in clean and Jerk sub-category, the jury members renounced their initial decision effectively to deprive a champion of his gold medal which was inevitable.”
Hashemi also went on to call out Mohamed Hassan Jaloud — General Secretary of the Asian Weightlifting Federation and a member of the jury in Rio — for exerting “undue influence on the final decision.”
It’s unclear exactly how CAS would intervene were an application to be heard and upheld; the Switzerland-based organization is intended to be an unbiased arbiter in international sporting disputes.
Featured image: @IWFnet on Instagram