By Duncan Mackay

Raphael Martinetti behind FILA signFebruary 16 - Raphaël Martinetti was today forced to resign as President of International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) after the sport was recommended for removal from the Olympics.

The Swiss, who had held the post since 2002, was effectively fired at a meeting of the FILA ruling Bureau in Phuket, the island beach resort in Thailand where they are discussing the controversial decision to remove wrestling from the core list of Olympic sports, placing it under threat of losing its place in the Games after Rio 2016.

Russia had led calls for Martinetti to be replaced, blaming him for the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board to remove wrestling from the list of core sports despite it having appeared in every Games, apart from one, since Athens in 1896. 

"The FILA Bureau has taken the decision to express its lack of trust in Raphaël Martinetti, and he has been dismissed," said Mikhail Mamiashvili, President of the Russian Wrestling Federation.

Martinetti received 50 per cent support after a vote of "no confidence" was proposed.

He could have saved himself with his casting vote but decided instead to step down.

Martinetti will be replaced on an interim basis by Serbian Nenad Lalovic, who will be in charge until a permament replacement can be elected at an extraordinary congress, which is due to be held alongside the World Championships in Budapest in September.

"Mr. Martinetti hopes that this situation will help save wrestling and thanks all National Federations for their unfailing support throughout his term as FILA President since 2002," said a statement on FILA's website.

"Mr. Martinetti also wishes plenty of success to Mr. Lalovic for the mission that now rests in his hands."

Nenad LalovicSerbian Nenad Lalovic will lead FILA on an interim basis until a permanent replacement for Raphaël Martinetti can be elected later this year

Lalovic claimed that wrestling now needed someone more with more influence to help the sport win back its place in the Olympics.

"It was difficult for a President who wasn't powerful for 11 years when the IOC decided to eliminate his sport from the Olympic Games," he said.

"Everyone of us will have a duty.

"We have only one goal that is to be back on the Olympics."

Wrestling will now join the seven sports bidding to be included on the Olympic programme - baseball/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.

"Lobbying is very important but it's not something that you can't determine in advance," said Lalovic.

"We have to prepare a serious presentation that must be prepared by professionals to present the real picture of our sport.

"This sport has been practiced by millions of people.

"We will use this fact in order to promote our sport."

Martinetti's decision to step down was welcomed around the world by those involved with wrestling.

"USA Wrestling and the international wrestling community wishes to thank Raphael Martinetti for his service and lifelong commitment to the sport," said USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender.

"This decision provides international wrestling with an opportunity to change and improve.

"The sport will now be able to create a fresh new relationship with the International Olympic Committee and address some of the pressing challenges and opportunities facing wrestling."

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