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Wrestler banned 2 years for Olympic medal protest

Nov. 06, 2008, 7:16 a.m. (ET)

GENEVA(AP) The Swedish wrestler who dropped his medal in protest at the Beijing Olympics was banned for two years along with his coach for “scandalous behavior,” the sport's governing body said Thursday.

The wrestling federation, known as FILA, suspended Ara Abrahamian and coach Leo Myllari and banned Sweden's wrestling federation from hosting international events for two years.

FILA also fined Abrahamian 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,600), Myllari 10,000 Swiss francs ($8,600) and the Swedish federation 50,000 Swiss francs ($43,000).

In a statement, FILA president Raphael Martinetti said the Swedes showed a “serious lack of Olympic spirit.”

Abrahamian disputed a penalty call which decided his semifinal bout against Andrea Minguzzi in the Greco-Roman 84-kilogram division. The Italian went on to win the gold medal.

Abrahamian won his bronze medal bout after his coach reportedly argued with judges and accused them of corruption.

During the medal ceremony, the Armenian-born wrestler took the bronze from his neck and dropped it on the mat as he walked away.

The International Olympic Committee stripped Abrahamian of the medal and expelled him from the games after ruling he violated the Olympic charter and was disrespectful to other medalists.

The Swiss-based wrestling body opened its own investigation and published verdicts Thursday.

Martinetti said the decision by the judges in Beijing in the disputed bout was made according to the rules.

“The coach has been judged equally guilty since he did not intervene to calm his wrestler,” FILA secretary general Michel Dusson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “And the federation was responsible for the behavior of its members, the wrestler and the coach, which was reprehensible.”

The punishments took effect Nov. 3 and the parties have 21 days to appeal the verdicts to FILA.

The cases could then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Abrahamian is also contesting the IOC rulings.

He won a first CAS hearing in August to establish that he was not given fair rights to protest the result of his disputed bout. He is now waiting for CAS to hear an appeal to downgrade his IOC expulsion to a warning.