Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Iranian paid $125,000 for Olympic no show

Iran have given judo world champion Arash Miresmaeili a $125,000 reward, saying he sacrificed a gold medal at the Athens Olympics by refusing to fight an Israeli, a sports official says.

State television showed Miresmaeili at an award ceremony receiving the same sum as Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh, who took the super-heavyweight weightlifting gold at the second Olympics in succession.

'He would definitely have won a gold medal if he had taken part,' the sports official, who declined to be named, said on Tuesday.

'By refusing to fight, Miresmaeili followed the policies of the country,' the official added.

Iran has refused to recognise the Jewish state's right to exist since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

The International Judo Federation had considered a sanction against Miresmaeili during the Games but concluded that he had been overweight for the fight and could not have taken part.

The International Olympic Committee also did not take any action.