USA Greco

RUS & BLR Close to Decision on Paris ’24 Olympics

artur sargsyan, 97 kg, ain, paris olympics
Artur Sargsyan -- Photo: UWW

On Saturday, June 15, the International Olympic Committee released the names of all Russian and Belarusian athletes who have been deemed eligible to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Out of the combined eight Greco-Roman wrestlers from Russia and Belarus who have qualified for the Olympics under the AIN (Individual Neutral Athlete) distinction, only one appears on the IOC’s updated list (Abubakar Khaslakhanau, 130 kg, BLR).

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Five Russian Greco-Roman competitors qualified for the Olympics while three from Belarus earned berths, as well. They are (in weight class order):

Sadyk Lalaev (60 kg)
Sergey Kutuzov (77 kg, RUS)
Milad Alirzaev (87 kg, RUS)
Kiril Maskevich (87 kg, BLR)
Abubakar Khaslakhanau (97 kg, BLR)
Artur Sargsian (97 kg, RUS)
Pavel Hlinchuk (130 kg, BLR)
Sergey Semenov (130 kg, RUS)

The IOC did provide the names of three AIN wrestlers who have been awarded eligibility for Paris — Magomed Murtazaliev (97kg, RUS), Alan Ostaev (87 kg, BLR), and Dmitri Zarubski (130 kg, BLR). In March, both Russia and Belarus submitted expanded rosters which included alternate athletes to be considered in the event eligibility requirements would not be met by their #1 starters. But when the IOC’s eligibility list was released on Saturday, the responses from the two national federations dripped with equal measures of surprise and exasperation.

Upon publish of the IOC AIN eligibility list, Russian Wrestling Federation head Mikheil Mamiashvili released his own statement, which read (in part): “They (IOC) were stalling for time and now they have made such a decision, completely ignoring the concept of the independence of public organizations. And they want to tell the world about the purity of their ranks? There is no need to be a genius — the task is to destroy the Olympic movement.”

Belarus’ statement struck a similar tone. “The National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus expresses bewilderment about the first list of Belarusian athletes who were invited by the IOC to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, dated June 15, 2024, as neutral athletes. Misunderstanding and indignation are caused by the opaque approaches and conclusions of the so-called commission to verify the neutral status of an athlete for admission to the Games. For unexplained reasons, those athletes who successfully passed the tests, participated in qualifying competitions and were able to win licenses are not allowed to participate.”

Matthew 20 Graphic v2

The messages from the pair of blackballed wrestling federations likewise intimated that they would decide this week as to whether or not they will indeed send athletes to Paris and, if they do, how many of their eligible wrestlers will be on it (with June 20 as the deadline for submission).

Earlier this morning (June 19), Mamiashvili released another statement on behalf of the Russian Wrestling Federation. It can be read in full below.

“We have won 16 Olympic licenses, but only 10 of our athletes received documents from the IOC, which requires them to sign an agreement to potentially compete at the Games in a neutral status, in compliance with the Olympic Charter and the statutes of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Unfortunately, our top ones are not on this list of athletes, which caused us bewilderment. The deadline is tomorrow (Thursday, June 20). The athletes who received these documents expressed their desire to participate in the Olympic Games, and members of the FSBR executive committee unanimously supported them in this. Today, these documents are sent to the IOC, but to say that our athletes will participate. in the Olympics it is still too early to finally confirm.”

The first salvo signaling eligibility problems for Russia occurred in April when freestyle star Abdulrashid Sadulaev was banned from participating in the European Olympic Games Qualifier. At the time, United World Wrestling cited criterium enacted by the IOC with regards to Individual Neutral Athletes as the reasoning. UWW’s own “Eligibility Panel” determined that Sadulaev supported Russia’s role in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine and had also discovered that the 27-year-old still maintained a direct affiliation with Russia’s Dynamo Sports Club, which has longstanding ties to that country’s national security forces.

Following Sadulaev’s exclusion from the European Olympic Games Qualifier, and in short order, Olympic/two-time World champ Musa Evloev (97 kg) was also excluded from entering. Evloev had only recently returned to active competition in the wake of a long hiatus due to injury, though he had recently won a Russian national title and was still considered a strong favorite to earn a 97 kg berth in Paris. The precise catalyst for Evloev’s shunning is not entirely clear, although it has been reported that he had attended a rally in support of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, as well as had been photographed standing in front of a banner depicting language that, apparently, is considered to be in acrimony with the IOC’s list of stipulations for AIN competitors.

RUS & BLR Qualifying Routes


At the aforementioned European Qualifier, Alirzaev and two-time Olympic bronze Semenov came away with quotas for Paris. Just over a month later, Lalaev, Kutuzov, and Sargsian punched their own tickets after going unblemished at the World OG Qualifier in Istanbul. As reported in the most recent Monday Roundup, Lalaev, Alirzaev, Sargsian, and Semenov each won titles on Saturday at the ’24 Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza Memorial in Serbia. It is likely that they entered the tournament as a means of preparation for competing in Paris.


Khaslakhanau was the earliest of all AIN qualifiers. He had put in a strong, if not startling showing at the ’23 World Championships by placing 5th. Belarus’ other two AIN athletes who qualified, Maskevich and Hlinchuk, achieved their berths at the World OG Qualifier last month.

At press time, it is unknown as to the reasoning discerned by the IOC pertaining to the ineligibility of those AIN Greco-Roman wrestlers who qualified for the Paris Games. Those decisions are determined on a case-by-case basis. UWW on Saturday did explain that “the AINERP (Individual Neutral Athletes Eligibility Review Panel) reviewed the athletes in accordance with the IOC EB (executive board) decision and the principles established. The Panel was in a position to benefit from new information from various sources, in particular official lists of athletes affiliated with sports clubs of the military and the security forces published on official websites in Russia and Belarus.”

What Next?

As per Mamiashvili’s statement earlier today, it is anticipated that secondary, or alternate, AIN wrestlers from Russia will compete in Paris (in just two of the five qualified weight categories), and the same can be said for the Belarusian contingent, despite that federation not yet having updated their original response from Monday.

The next expectation is that several wrestlers who fell short of qualifying for Paris as the direct result of an ineligible AIN competitor will themselves receive Olympic berths. Speculation on this matter has been rampant since the weekend, and all national federations beholden to the potentiality of being awarded quotas have already been contacted by UWW. An official decision regarding the re-allocation of Olympic berths could be announced by the end of the week.

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