Russian Wrestling Federation President Mikhail Mamiashvili has been denied a United States visa to attend the World Championships here.
Mamiashvili had planned to attend the Championships, which have started today and are scheduled to conclude on Saturday (September 12).
The United World Wrestling (UWW) vice-president claimed he was frustrated by the decision as he supported the international governing body’s choice to stage the World Championships in the US for the first time since 2003, when New York City hosted the men’s freestyle competition.
“The US denied me a visa – they didn’t explain their decision,” Mamiashvili, a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told R-Sport news agency.
“I will not fly to Las Vegas, the team is already there.
“I’m positive the decision has nothing to do with sport.”
The first vice-president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Georgy Bryusov, claimed the decision to deny Mamiashvili entry into the country was politically motivated.
“I’m sure the US Wrestling Federation did everything they could to resolve the visa issue,” he said.
“But I have to acknowledge that politics has once again prevailed over sport and over common sense.”
UWW told insidethegames they would not be commenting on the matter.
Ukranian-born Mamiashvili, a former wrestler himself who won Greco-Roman middleweight gold for Russia at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, is no stranger to controversy.
At the Athens 2004 Olympics, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reports he was accused of giving signs to the referee of a gold medal match involving a Russian wrestler.
The accusation was made by Sweden’s Pelle Svensson, a Board member of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) as the international governing body was then known.
When he told Mamiashvili he was violating the rules, the Swede claimed he was told: “You should know that this may lead to your death.”
Evidence was later allegedly found by Svensson that the Romanian referee had been bribed.
UWW is delivering a high-definition live stream of every match from the ongoing World Championships.
To access the event page and the live stream, click here.
You can also follow all the action from the World Championships using #VegasWorlds2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
insidethegames will also be running a daily live blog during the Championships.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.