Olympic gold wrester Abdulrashid Sadulaev barred from Olympic qualifiers

Abdulrashid Sadulaev is famously known as the ‘Russian Tank’ in the wrestling world. He won the Olympic gold in 2016 in the 86kg category and seized the 97kg title in Tokyo 2021. Despite his formidable presence on the mat, the 27-year-old’s journey to secure a spot in the Paris Games took an unexpected turn.

Sadulaev withdrew from the world championships last year owing to injury. He had been aiming to secure his spot at the Paris Games as a neutral athlete in the 97kg category which is scheduled for July 26–August 11.

However, things took a drastic turn. Before the European qualifiers in Baku which take place from April 5–7, United World Wrestling deemed Sadulaev “ineligible.” This is after they discovered “new information” about his “support” for the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

UWW said in a statement: “Sadulaev has been ruled out of the European OG Qualifiers in Baku after he failed to meet the eligibility criteria set by the International Olympic Committee for Individual Neutral Athletes.”

The five-time world champion was found to be an official member of Dynamo Moscow by a UWW eligibility panel. It is a sports club associated with the Russian government.

He participated in the Isan Yarygin Cup from January 24-28 alongside Alexander Fedorchuk, who took part in the aggression against Ukraine. Additionally, he liked a post with military symbols Z.

It is said that Sadulaev supported Russian aggression against Ukraine by participating in and being the guest of honour at the “Republican Freestyle Wrestling Tournament dedicated to the memory of the Kazbek soldiers who died during the special military operation in Ukraine.” He also shared a video from this event on his Instagram page.

Last year, the IOC banned Russia from the 2024 Games. However, it allowed Russian athletes to participate as neutrals as long as they refrained from openly endorsing the Kremlin’s offensive against Ukraine.

The UWW added: “Each Individual Neutral Athlete goes through a rigorous vetting process by UWW in preparation for any tournament and is examined based on the criteria set by the IOC which rules thorough background and social media checks of individuals from Russia and Belarus”