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Tavakkol says US has lost face in FILA

Tehran, March 3, IRNA -- Vice-president of the world's wrestling governing body FILA said the United States due to its policy on fingerprinting Iranian wrestlers has lost face and FILA holds it no respect.

Talking to IRNA on Monday, Mohammad Tavakkol who is also a member of FILA Board of Directors added the fingerprinting of wrestlers in the United States is in sharp contrast to the charter, rules, and objectives of the International Olympic Committee and the International Wrestling Federation and FILA rejects it.

The US fingerprinting is not limited just to the Iranian people and athletes, said Tavakkol adding the Western country has listed 45 states of the world including South European countries, Cuba, North Korea, Mongolia, and Egypt that have world-class wrestling as well.

FILA is doing its best to prevent the United States from politicizing wrestling, said FILA ranking official adding that the world body is trying the clear wrestling from these issues.

In fact, FILA aims to promote friendship among its members, reiterated the Iranian official.

Tavakkol refused to travel to the United States.

On Saturday, he told FILA Chief Raphael Martinetti on the phone that he would not represent FILA in the world wrestling event in the US due to fingerprinting of the Iranians living in that country.

The Iranian official asked Martinetti to replace him and the FILA supremo agreed.

FILA had selected Tavakkol as its representative to the World Freestyle Wrestling Championships to be held in the United States in April 2003.

Talking to IRNA on February 21, the IWF President Mohammad-Reza Taleqani said the FILA and the US Wrestling Federation have not yet responded to the IWF's letter on arrival of Iranian wrestlers to the United States.

He added the federation has sent a letter to the US Wrestling Federation saying "if the US government insists on fingerprinting the Iranian freestyle wrestlers upon entering the United States, Iran will not send its team to take part in the 2003 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships."

Taleqani said his federation has also sent a letter to FILA urging the international federation to change the venue of world event if the United States intends to fingerprint the members of participating teams.

"We are still expecting the response of both FILA and the US federation," added Taleqani.

"If we are given the due respect, we have no qualms in sending the wrestling team to international tournaments," Taleqani had already said.

The team has been approved to be dispatched for the 2003 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships, said the IWF boss and reiterated: "We have made it clear that Iran will not participate if athletes are to be fingerprinted."

Taleqani said in January that the federation has decided to send Iranian freestyle wrestlers to the wrestling World Cup in Boise, Idaho in March and the world championships at New York's Madison Square Garden in September 2003.

The international federation has set the 2003 championships contests as precondition for attending the Olympic Games in 2004.

The world champion in 2002, Iran took the bronze medal of the Asian freestyle wrestling tournament in Pusan, South Korea, in October.

With one gold, two silvers, and two bronzes, the Iranian wrestling team finished third while the host team of South Korea stole the coveted gold, winning three gold and one silver medals.

Collecting two golds and one silver, Uzbekistan finished runner-up.

... Payvand News - 3/3/03 ... --

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