International Wrestling chief must quit after bringing sport "to ruin" demand Russian Federation

Friday, 15 February 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Raphael Martinetti head and shouldersFebruary 15 - Raphaël Martinetti will tomorrow face calls from Russia to resign as head of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) after the sport was left fighting for its Olympic future. 

FILA's ruling Bureau is due to start a two-day meeting in Phuket, Thailand, and the future of Martinetti will be top of the agenda following the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board in Lausanne on Tuesday (February 12) that wrestling should be removed from the list of core sports after Rio 2016.

That has left the sport in real danger of being removed from the Olympic programme, despite the fact it has appeared in every Games - apart from one - since Athens in 1896.

Martinetti, a Swiss official who rose through the ranks to become President in 2002, is being blamed for the situation the sport now finds in. 

"We'll start the debate early tomorrow morning," said Mikhail Mamiashvili, President of the Russian Wrestling Federation and an influential member of the FILA Bureau.

"The President who factually brought wrestling to ruin must quit.

"Tomorrow, we'll decide whether he leaves the post or takes measures."

Mikhail Mamiashvili head and shouldersRussian Wrestling Federation President Mikhail Mamiashvili blames FILA chief Raphaël Martinetti for the situation that the sport now finds itself in

The fact that it is the Russians who are calling on Martinetti to quit is significant because they are the sport's most powerful country.

They - or the Soviet Union - have topped the Olympic medals at every Games since Munich 1972, except Los Angles in 1984, which they boycotted.

At London Russia won a total of 11 medals, including four gold.

The Russians have already made it clear that they plan to protest to the IOC about the decision to axe wrestling.

It was the fact that FILA President was apparently oblivious to the fact that wrestling's place on the Olympic programme was in danger that has upset many senior officials, who believe that Martinetti was too complacent and should have lobbied harder.

"The information that the IOC Executive Board would consider the matter, I heard a long time before the meeting," said Mamiashvili, winner of the Olympic gold medal in the middleweight category at Seoul in 1988.

"I immediately demanded, through President Raphael Martinetti, FILA take the necessary steps to remove the issue from the discussion.

"But the recommendation to exclude the wrestling from the Olympic programme still took place.

"I believe that Martinetti's task was to work hard, socialise and defend wrestling's place before the IOC."

Natalie Ivanova Russia London 2012Natalia Vorobieva on her way to victory in the women's 72kg division at London 2012, where she was one of four Russian wrestlers to win gold medals

Wrestling will now join the seven sports bidding to be included on the Olympic programme - aseball/softball, karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu - giving presentations to the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg at the end of May.

The final decision on which should be included as a core sport for 2020 will be taken by the full IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.

"The FILA and whole wrestling community must take a more active role in the process," said Mamiashvili.

"We need to make it more attractive, especially for TV audiences."

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