Sadulaev ruled ineligible to compete by UWW panel

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (April 4) -- Abdulrashid SADULAEV has been ruled out of the European OG Qualifiers in Baku after he failed to meet the eligibility criteria set by the International Olympic Committee for Individual Neutral Athletes.

The two-time Olympic champion was ruled ineligible by the United World Wrestling Eligibility panel. This third-party panel continuously monitors the eligibility of wrestlers based on the criteria defined by the IOC.

Sadulaev was declared ineligible after the panel found new information about his support of the Ukraine-Russia war and that he is still officially declared a member of the Dynamo club.

Each Individual Neutral Athlete goes through a rigorous vetting process by UWW in preparation for any tournament and is examined based on the criteria set by the IOC which rules thorough background and social media checks of individuals from Russia and Belarus.

The decisions regarding eligibility were made by a panel, relying on comprehensive vetting reports provided by an independent and private intelligence service provider.

The wrestlers who were deemed eligible will compete as Individual Neutral Athletes, without any flags or references to their respective countries. Additionally, the national anthems of Russia and Belarus will not be played in the event of medals being awarded to these athletes.


Golden hattrick for Kougiomtsidis, historic gold for Lefter at U23 Euros

By United World Wrestling Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 25) -- Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) seems to enjoy competing against Azerbaijani wrestlers.

In September last year at the World Championships, the former European champion got the better of Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) in the fifth-place bout to book his Paris Olympics quota. On Saturday, he underlined his preparedness for this summer’s Games by defeating another Azerbaijan wrestler, Ali TCOKAEV (AZE).

And in doing so, he completed a rare golden hat-trick. A U23 European champion in 2022 and 2023, Kougioumtsidis completed the ‘three-peat’ in style. The 22-year-old needed barely five minutes to reach the semifinals, where he had to dig into his experience to overcome rookie wrestler Arsen BALAIAN (AIN).

Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE)Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) won his third successive U23 European Championships gold medal. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the final, Kougioumtsidis was up against the local hero Tcokaev. Only 21, the Azerbaijan wrestler was looking for his first-ever gold medal in this competition. Like his opponent, Tcokaev looked sharp coming into the final and he was the one making all the early moves. But in a blink of an eye, the wrestler from Greece turned the 79kg final on its head.

Kougioumtsidis was placed on the passivity clock just over a minute into the bout. That call seemed to have woken him up from his slumber. As the clock ticked down, Kougioumtsidis first went for Tcokaev’s left leg but the Azerbaijani was quick to defend. He then went for the right. This time, not only did he successfully execute the single-leg attack, but Kougioumtsidis also tripped him for a four-pointer.

Tcokaev tried making a comeback but Kougioumtsidis used his long limbs to keep his opponent at bay and closed out the match 4-1, not scoring any more points.

It was a statement win. But it also broke the hearts of the home fans who were expecting to see their wrestlers turn on the style on the penultimate day of the championships. Instead, they had to witness two Azerbaijani defeats in the finals.

Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN)Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) won the 70kg gold medal after beating Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) in the final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

Moments before Tcokaev lost to Kougioumtsidis, Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) was defeated 6-2 by Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) in the 70kg final.

Sheriev’s was one of the three Individual Neutral Athletes who won gold medals on Saturday. The finals session on the second last day of championships began with Artem GOBAEV (AIN) beating Muhammet KARAVUS (TUR) 8-3 for the 57kg gold medal.

Gobaev was dominant throughout the final, deftly evading Karavus’s moves and launching vicious counterattacks to give his Turkish rival no chance of winning and being crowned as the U23 continental champion for the first time.

Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN)Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN) captured the 65kg title after beating defending champion Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA). (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

If Gobaev was patient enough to capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes, Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN) was like a flashy sports car that takes less than 10 seconds to go full throttle.

Since winning the U23 World Championship title last year, Ibragimov hasn’t had a lot to show from his fledgling wrestling career. Big wins and titles have both been missing. That drought ended in Baku.

Ibragimov had spent less than 10 minutes on the mat on Friday to reach the final, scoring 21 points and allowing just one. But in Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), he was up against the defending U23 European Championship gold medallist in the 65kg final.

He might not have won anything eye-popping of late, but Ibragimov didn’t look too overwhelmed by the quality of his opponent. The Frenchman was still to settle into the final when Ibragimov bent forward and got a grip of his leg for a swift two-point takedown.

The bout was only eight seconds old, but from that moment on, the writing was on the wall. Ibragimov kept chipping away constantly at his opponent to keep the scorecard ticking in his favor through a series of push-outs and passivity points Arsamerzouev conceded.

Eventually, in the battle between the U23 world champion, Ibragimov, and the U23 European champion, it was the former who prevailed 6-2.

Radu LEFTER (MDA)Radu LEFTER (MDA) celebrates after winning the 97kg gold medal, a first for Moldova at the U23 European Championships in Freestyle. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

Lefter wins historic gold

Radu LEFTER (MDA) will remember this day for a long time. Not only did he win his first gold medal at a championship, Lefter became the first wrestler from Moldova to win a Freestyle gold medal at the U23 European Championships after he defeated Soslan DZHAGAEV (AIN) in the final.

A two-time U23 World Championships silver medalist, Lefter got a huge baggage off his back after winning the gold in Baku. This was Lefter's fourth U23 European Championships where he has previously won a silver and two bronze medals. He also has a silver at the U20 and a bronze at the U17 European Championships.

In Baku, Lefter reached the final after two technical superiority wins but was challenged by Dzhagaev. He was put on the activity clock in the first period and trailed 1-0 at the break. But the second period was a completely different story.

Dzhagaev was put on the activity clock during which he hit a single-leg attack but Lefter countered it with exposure to get two points in addition to one after the activity clock expired to lead 3-1. With the clock ticking, Dzhagaev felt the pressure and made half-attacks, including an inside trip in the final 10 seconds which Lefter countered for a takedown and secure the historic win.

Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE)2022 U23 European champion Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) will look to win his second title on Sunday. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Jake Kirkman)

Gadzhiev, Magamadov eye titles

On the final day of the competition, former U23 European champion Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) will face Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN) for the bragging rights in the 74kg.

Abdulvagabov had to overcome a tough opening round where he was stretched all the way by Irahim YAPRAK (TUR) before winning 5-4. After that initial hiccup, Abdulvagabov had little trouble beating other opponents, winning the quarterfinal by technical superiority and scoring a 7-3 win over Krisztian BIRO (ROU).

Gadzhiev’s route was a lot more straightforward wherein he didn’t have to survive any scares, scoring 28 points so far and conceding only 6.

The battle in the 86kg weight class, too, promises to be a mouthwatering as defending champion Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) will face Arslan BAGAEV (AIN). Only 20, Magamadov has a slew of titles to his name and will hope to add another U23 European title to his already impressive trophy cabinet.

In the 125kg class, Alen KHUBULOV (BUL) gave himself a fighting chance to win his first-ever gold medal at an international level after he reached the final, where he will face SOLOMON MANASHVILI (GEO).

Both wrestlers have had more or less an identical path to the final, with Khubulov playing an extra bout as he had to first compete in the qualifying round, which he convincingly won.



GOLD: Artem GOBAEV (AIN) df. Muhammet KARAVUS (TUR), 8-3

BRONZE: Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) df. Thomas EPP (SUI), 4-1
BRONZE: Vladyslav ABRAMOV (UKR) df. Herbert AKAPIAN (AIN), 8-3


BRONZE: Serghei CILCIC (MDA) df. Daniel KULCZYNSKI (POL), 4-0
BRONZE: Abdullah TOPRAK (TUR) df. Ayub MUSAEV (BEL), 3-2

GOLD: Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) df. Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE), 6-2

BRONZE: Constantin CHIRILOV (MDA) df. Bohdan OLIINYK (UKR), 3-1


BRONZE: Radomir STOYANOV (BUL) df. Marius RETCO (MDA), 6-4

GOLD: Radu LEFTER (MDA) df. Soslan DZHAGAEV (AIN), 6-1

BRONZE: Rifat GIDAK (TUR) df. Ravan MUSAYEV (AZE), 2-2

Freestyle Semifinals


SF 1: Mykyta ABRAMOV (UKR) df. Nuraddin NOVRUZOV (AZE), 15-12
SF 2: Bashir MAGOMEDOV (AIN) df. Simone PIRODDU (ITA), 10-0


SF 1: Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) df. Luka CHKHITUNIDZE (GEO), 7-4
SF 2: Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN) df. Krisztian BIRO (ROU), 7-3


SF 1: Arslan BAGAEV (AIN) df. Arsenii DZHIOEV (AZE), 5-1
SF 2: Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) df. Emre CIFTCI (TUR), 11-0


SF 1: Adlan VISKHANOV (FRA) df. Mustafagadzhi MALACHDIBIROV (AIN), 10-4
SF 2: Gkivi BLIATZE (GRE) df. Ion DEMIAN (MDA), 4-2


SF 1: Alen KHUBULOV (BUL) df. Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN), 3-2
SF 2: Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) df. Milan KORCSOG (HUN), 4-1