For immediate release, August 25, 2002
USA Wrestling decides not to attend World Freestyle Championships in Iran and requests that FILA move the event to another location
The Executive Committee of USA Wrestling has decided not to send the 2002 U.S. Freestyle World Team to compete at the World Freestyle Wrestling Championships in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 5-7. The decision was reached during a conference call on Sunday, Aug. 25. The meeting was a follow-up from a Friday, Aug. 23 emergency meeting to discuss the same issue. The Executive Committee reached the decision after receiving credible information on Aug. 23 from an official U.S. government channel concerning a possible threat to the safety of the team in Iran. The U.S. team's athletes, coaches and team leaders were made aware of this situation and were included in the decision-making process. USA Wrestling also consulted with a number of U.S. government officials, as well as with the Iranian Wrestling Federation, during the evaluation process. Along with the decision not to attend the World Championships, the Executive Committee decided to request that FILA, the international federation, move the World Championships to a nation where the government can secure the safety of all the participating nations. "On behalf of USA Wrestling, I would like to express my sympathies to our U.S. wrestling team. To those athletes who have devoted their life to the pursuit of a World championship, we regret having to make this decision," said Stan Dziedzic, USA Wrestling President. "I assure the athletes, coaches, USA Wrestling members and the international wrestling federation that there was no choice. Faced with a real and credible threat to our U.S. wrestlers and no assurances from the Iranian government of protection, we could not jeopardize the lives and well-being of our delegation." (see page 2 for complete text of Stan Dziedzic statement)
The U.S. team was scheduled to leave Monday, Aug. 26 for Germany, its final training stage prior to leaving for Iran. On its Executive Committee call on Aug. 12, the organization decided to continue with its plans to attend the World Championships in Iran. USA Wrestling staff was instructed to continue to monitor the world situation in regards to travel to Iran and the Executive Committee agreed to meet again to discuss the issue if the situation called for further review. USA Wrestling conducted extensive security planning for the trip to Iran this year. It was a similar process to the one that the organization conducted prior to attending the relocated World Championships in 2001 in Sofia, Bulgaria (freestyle and women) and Patras, Greece (Greco-Roman). The 2001 World Championships of Wrestling were scheduled for Madision Square Garden in New York City, Sept. 26-29, but the event was postponed then moved after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
A U.S. wrestling team has competed in Iran on four previous occassions. In February 1998, a U.S. freestyle team wrestled in the international Takhti Cup in Tehran, becoming the first U.S. sports team to compete in Iran since the revolution almost 20 years earlier. Later in September 1998, the United States also competed at the Freestyle World Championships held in Tehran. The U.S. also sent teams to wrestle in the Takhti Cup event in Tehran in 2000 and 2001. The Iran wrestling team has also competed in the United States many times in recent years, beginning with the 1995 World Cup in Chattanooga, Tenn. Iran sent teams to compete in the United States for the 1995 World Championships, the 1996 Olympic Games, the 1998 Junior World Championships and for six Freestyle World Cups (1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001). Two of the seven members of the U.S. team have never competed at a World Championships: Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and Tim Hartung (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) at 96 kg/213.75 lbs.
This marks the first time that the United States has chosen not to participate in a World Championships event, since the U.S. began attending the World Championships in 1961.
(See next page for complete statement by USA Wrestling President Stan Dziedzic, text of information received by USA Wrestling, and roster of U.S. World Team)
STATEMENT BY USA WRESTLING PRESIDENT STAN DZIEDZIC
On behalf of USA Wrestling, I would like to express my sympathies to our U.S. wrestling team. To those athletes who have devoted their life to the pursuit of a World championship, we regret having to make this decision. I assure the athletes, coaches, USA Wrestling members and the international wrestling federation that there was no choice. Faced with a real and credible threat to our U.S. wrestlers and no assurances from the Iranian government of protection, we could not jeopardize the lives and well-being of our delegation.
After receiving unsolicited intelligence information from a U.S. government agency that our delegation was targeted and that we could not be given the necessary assurances from the Iranian authorities, the Executive Committee of USA Wrestling voted not to send a delegation to the 2002 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships, scheduled to be held September 5 to September 7 in Tehran, Iran. There were no dissenting votes.
Our first course of action will be to solicit relief from the International Wrestling Federation. We will send a communication requesting that they postpone the event until they can secure a safe site for the competition.
The 2001 World Championships in all styles were scheduled to be held in Madison Square Garden in New York City, September 26-29. After the tragedy of September 11, the event was postponed and all three styles were moved to separate locations. We harbor hope that the FILA will see the wisdom in postponing this event and seeking a secure venue.
TEXT OF INFORMATION RECEIVED BY USA WRESTLING
The U.S. government has received late July 2002 information that there is a possible threat of violence to the U.S. Wrestling Team, scheduled to participate in the 4-7 September 2002 World Wrestling Championships in Tehran, Iran.
An Iranian official has expressed his opinion that it would be "out of our control" to protect the U.S. team from anti-American demonstrations and activities by the various Iranian groups who have recently made their anti-American and "Death to America" sentiments public.
2002 U.S. FREESTYLE WORLD TEAM ROSTER
55 kg/119 lbs. - Stephen Abas, Fresno, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
60 kg/132 lbs. - Eric Guerrero, Stillwater, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Chris Bono, Gilbert, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Joe Williams, Coralville, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
84 kg/185 lbs. - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
96 kg/211.25 lbs. - Tim Hartung, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Kerry McCoy, Bethlehem, Pa. (New York AC)
Head Coach - Bobby Douglas, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
Assistant Coach - Tom Brands, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
National Freestyle Coach - Kevin Jackson, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Note: A number of other coaches, training partners, medical staff and delegation staff were also included in the U.S. delegation for the World Championships.
To reach USA Wrestling president or Executive Director, call Gary Abbott at 719-338-7226.
To reach USA Wrestling athletes or coaches, call John Fuller at 719-964-1198.
BACK TO USAWCT