Russia's two-time world champion Lebedev to snub Rio

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian freestyle wrestler Viktor Lebedev announced Tuesday that he will snub the Rio Olympics over an officiating controversy at last week's national championships, local media reported.

The 28-year-old two-time world champion, who hails from the northern Russian region of Yakutia, won a match in the 57 kg category last Friday against his compatriot Ismail Musukayev at the national championships held in Lebedev's native region.

However, Musukayev's coaches and supporters, who are from the southern Russian region of Dagestan, claimed that the referees had unfairly granted the win to the local wrestler, pouring onto the ring and taking part in a scuffle that had to be broken up by riot police.

Dagestan's wrestling federation boycotted the remainder of the championships following the incident.

"Even if I stand on the podium (in Rio) with a gold medal, I will not have the right emotions," Lebedev told a local news site. "I won't be especially happy that my dream of winning Olympic gold will have come true. A bad aftertaste will remain."

Lebedev added he was unlikely to attend the national team's pre-Olympic training camp.

The president of Russia's wrestling federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, told R-Sport news agency on Monday that the referees who had officiated the match between Lebedev and Musukayev had been suspended.

The spokesman of Dagestan's sports ministry, Gadzhimurad Akhmedov, said that Lebedev's decision not to compete at Rio showed he was a "real man," Russia media reported.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that Lebedev's decision should be respected and that the country would strive to send its best wrestlers to Rio.

"Any decision that is taken judiciously and deliberately must be respected," R-Sport quoted Mutko as saying.