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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Missed weight ruled an accident

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- International judo officials won't penalize a two-time champion from Iran who reportedly said he wouldn't fight an Israeli opponent, then showed up overweight for the bout.

Arash Miresmaeili, a favorite in the under 146-pound (66 kg) class, failed to meet the weight requirement Sunday for a bout with Israel's Ehud Vaks and was disqualified.

The International Judo Federation investigated and concluded Thursday that he didn't miss his weight to avoid the bout. The federation has no rule for penalizing an overweight athlete.

Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the Jewish state.

Miresmaeili was world judo champion in 2001 and 2003 and finished fifth at the Sydney Olympics. He carried the Iranian flag at the opening ceremonies in Athens and was considered a favorite to win Iran's first gold medal in judo.

Iranian athletes have refused to compete against Israelis in the past. At the 2001 judo world championships, Mahed Malekmohammadi of Iran did not compete again Yoel Razvozov.

Miresmaeili has not participated in any major international tournament this season, although he did participate in training at a tournament in Paris in April. The last time he competed internationally was at the world championships in 2003 in Osaka.