The president of wrestling’s world governing body FILA was forced to resign on Saturday less than a week after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that the sport be dropped from the 2020 Summer Games.
Switzerland’s Raphael Martinetti announced he was stepping down at a FILA Executive Committee meeting in Thailand after a vote of no confidence following wrestling’s recommended exit from the Games, the first sport since 2005 to be dropped from the Olympic programme.
He had been “accused” by some of FILA’s members as responsible for the sport’s debacle at this week’s IOC Executive Board meeting.
“On the occasion of the extraordinary bureau meeting that was convened by Mr. Raphael Martinetti in Phuket on 15-16 February 2013, a group of Eastern delegates accused him of being to blame for the eviction of wrestling as part of the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games,” FILA said in a statement.
“Mr. Martinetti asked for the bureau’s trust in leading the campaign to save wrestling in the coming months, but the bureau only supported him by 50 per cent of the votes,” it said.
“Mr. Martinetti did not use his casting vote to save his position and announced his resignation in order to give the chance to another President to act upon the situation.”
Serbian Nenad Lalovic was chosen as acting president.
Wrestling seemingly paid the price for complacency with other sports, considered more at risk, having strong supporters among the IOC’s decision-making executive board. Both taekwondo and modern pentathlon, seen to be at risk, had representation on the powerful IOC board.
FILA vice president Tomiaki Fukuda told reporters the governing body would continue to review wrestling’s plight during the annual gathering being held in Phuket.
“We will discuss in what ways we can bring wrestling back, but if nothing is decided today, we’ll continue our discussions tomorrow,” Fukuda said.
USA Wrestling thanked the outgoing president and welcomed the changes being made at the governing body.
“USA Wrestling and the international wrestling community wishes to thank Raphael Martinetti for his service and lifelong commitment to the sport,” the association’s executive director Rich Bender was quoted as saying on its official website.
“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.”
Part of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and all further editions of the Games, except the 1900 Paris Olympics, wrestling was stunned when the IOC Executive Board made a surprise recommendation on Tuesday to drop the sport from the 2020 Games.
The sport will now join seven other candidate sports battling for one spot in a revamped programme when the IOC session in Buenos Aires votes on the recommendation in September.