Handball federation overturns star suspension

Double Olympic champion Nikola Karabatic cleared by appeal panel after match-fixing allegations rock French game.

Nikola Karabatic
French star Nikola Karabatic, pictured left with his brother Luka, was detained in October after an investigation by police uncovered suspicions of illegal betting [Reuters]

An appeal panel at the French handball federation on Friday overturned a six-match suspension against double Olympic champion Nikola Karabatic and two other players over match-fixing claims.

Karabatic was one of seven players slapped with a hefty ban on February 5 in connection with a high-profile illegal betting case on the result of a match between league champions Montpellier and Cesson last year.

Montpellier lost the game against Cesson 31-28 but suspicions were raised because of large bets placed at half-time on a defeat for the champions.

Members of the appeal panel revoked the maximum suspension allowed by the federation, considering that there remained doubt about the material evidence of the involvement of Karabatic and former team-mates Dragan Gajic and Issam Tej.

All three have denied any wrongdoing.

Revelations about illegal betting have rocked followers of the popular sport in France. The country’s team won the last two men’s Olympic titles in Beijing and London in 2008 and 2012.

Of those implicated in the affair, Tej and Gajic are the only ones still at Montpellier. Karabatic has joined his brother at the southern club of Aix-en-Provence.

Nikola and Luka Karabatic and their girlfriends, plus a number of other players and others implicated in the affair, were placed under formal investigation in October on suspicion of defrauding state-run betting franchise Francaise des Jeux.

Source: AFP