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Wrestling Head Ousted as Russia Blames Him for Olympics Demotion

Raphael Martinetti, the president of wrestling’s governing body, was dismissed today after Russia blamed him for failing to prevent the sport’s exclusion from the 2020 Olympics.

The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, or FILA, will elect a new head in late April or early May, the Russian Wrestling Federation said in a statement on its website.

Wrestling, which has been in the modern Olympic program since 1896 and was part of the ancient games in Greece, was eliminated from the “core sports” for the 2020 games, the International Olympic Committee said Feb. 12. Instead, it will vie for a place with karate, roller sports, climbing, squash, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu, as well baseball and softball, which are seeking inclusion under a single sports banner.

Mikhail Mamiashvili, Russia’s FILA representative, spent half of the night persuading colleagues to oust Martinetti, according to the wrestling federation’s statement. The move followed a vote of no confidence by the FILA board yesterday in Thailand, said the federation, which Mamiashvili heads.

Alexander Karelin, a Russian lawmaker and three-time Olympic wrestling gold medalist, was unanimously named a member of FILA’s bureau, according to the statement.

Russia won four of its 24 Olympic gold medals last year in wrestling. Russia dominated the medals count in the sport during the London games, with 11 total, followed by Azerbaijan and Iran.

Phone calls to FILA seeking comment on the dismissal of Martinetti, who is Swiss, went unanswered outside of working hours.

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