IOC accepts explanation on Iranian swimmer

Aug. 11, 2008, 1:36 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The International Olympic Committee has accepted the explanation of an Iranian swimmer who pulled out of an event that included an Israeli competitor.

Mohammad Alirezaei withdrew from the heats of the men's 100 meter breaststroke on Saturday just before he was due to compete against a field that included Israel's Tom Beeri. He cited illness as the reason.

Iran could have faced sanctions from the IOC if Alirezaei pulled out deliberately because an Israeli was also racing, but IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Monday that no violation had been found.

"The athlete has withdrawn because of sickness," she said. "He confirmed this in writing to the swimming federation. We've also spoken with the national Olympic committee and they have underlined to us that all their athletes compete here in the right spirit against athletes from any nationality.

"We take both the athlete and the national Olympic committee at their word on this," she said.

Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the Jewish state.

A similar case occurred at the 2004 Athens Olympics when an Iranian judo athlete did not compete against an Israeli opponent, and Iranian government officials were quoted in state media as congratulating him for doing so.

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