ATHENS, Greece -- International judo officials won't
penalize a two-time champion from Iran who reportedly said he
wouldn't fight an Israeli opponent, then showed up overweight for
Arash Miresmaeili, a favorite in the under 146-pound (66 kg)
class, failed to meet the weight requirement Sunday for a bout with
Israel's Ehud Vaks and was disqualified.
The International Judo Federation investigated and concluded
Thursday that he didn't miss his weight to avoid the bout. The
federation has no rule for penalizing an overweight athlete.
Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the
Miresmaeili was world judo champion in 2001 and 2003 and
finished fifth at the Sydney Olympics. He carried the Iranian flag
at the opening ceremonies in Athens and was considered a favorite
to win Iran's first gold medal in judo.
Iranian athletes have refused to compete against Israelis in the
past. At the 2001 judo world championships, Mahed Malekmohammadi of
Iran did not compete again Yoel Razvozov.
Miresmaeili has not participated in any major international
tournament this season, although he did participate in training at
a tournament in Paris in April. The last time he competed
internationally was at the world championships in 2003 in Osaka.