Moscow: Wrestling was dropped from the core Olympic programme because the sport is run by a federation with deficient management and no clear rules on how to punish breaches of "ethical norms", champion pole vaulter and International Olympic Committee member Sergey Bubka said on Wednesday. Bubka was on the executive board that voted wrestling off the programme from 2020 onwards and relegated the sport to battling seven other candidates for the final remaining slot.
The IOC has not given any reason for the decision, but Bubka outlined the arguments made before the vote, saying wrestling's governing body FILA lacked important governance structures.
"There are certain significant arguments because as of today there's no commission for athletes, no administration for decisions of the federation's executive committee, there's no women's committee. There are no rules regarding sanctions for the federation's ethical norms. There are simply statistical data that (breaches) happened," he said.
He also added that the final round of voting saw "eight votes against wrestling in the final round, three against modern pentathlon and three against field hockey". Since the decision was announced, two gold-medal winning wrestlers have returned their medals to the IOC and one Bulgarian official has gone on hunger strike. Bubka said dramatic gestures of protest were a mistake and detracted focus from making necessary reforms at FILA.
"I don't thank you need to do that. Today professionals should work to correct those mistakes that were committed. I am confident that wrestling can return because wrestling has ancient traditions, it was on the ancient Olympic programme. So now it's necessary to work solidly on what's needed to return and to do everything so that wrestling is on the Olympic programme," he added.
Wrestling's cause has brought together unlikely allies, with US and Iranian national Olympic officials among those to call for the sport's reinstatement. The Russian government will do everything possible to salvage the sport, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin has said. In the aftermath of the IOC vote to cut wrestling, the president of FILA resigned and has since been replaced by an acting head.
The final decision on the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games will be made by the IOC in Buenos Aires in September along with the announcement of the host city. The sport has been included in various forms at every Olympics since 1904. In recent years, it has attracted scant spectator interest outside its stronghold countries and faced claims of corrupt refereeing at the Games.