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BigTimeFan

Post Soviet Country Switching

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I am struck by how many medalists in men's freestyle in Rio had wrestled for Russia previously. A little poking reveals:

 

  1. Albert Saritov (Bronze, 97kg) wrestled for Russia till three years ago but won a medal in Rio for Romania
     
  2. Ibragimov (Bronze 97kg) wrestled for through 2014 but won a medal in Rio for Uzbekestan.
     
  3. Goziumov (Silver 97kg) for Azerbaijan at 97kg but in 2005 and 2006 he competed for Russia in the senior World Cup.
     
  4. Saidu (Bronze 125kg) for Belarus but in 2012 was wrestling for Russia.
     
  5. Sharifov (Bronze 86kg) for Azerbaijan but in 2007 wrestled in the European Juniors for Russia.
     
  6. Selim Yasar (Silver 86kg) for Turkey but as late as 2013 was wrestling for Russia.

This is striking. A full 25% of the men's freestyle medalists in Rio never would have gotten out of their country in the 1980s. There was no moving from Russia to Turkey in the 1980s that I know of (anyone know differently) and certainly no moving from Russia to Belarus, Azerbaijan or Uzbekestan (they didn't exist). The ability for an athlete to switch affiliation today, as evidenced by the medal count in Rio, is much more significant than in the 1980s. Let's think about this.

 

All of the above listed wrestlers were listed in the UWW database as having competed for Russia at some point in their careers, but ended up medaling in Rio for another country. Competed for Russia. But none of them ever represented Russia in the senior world championships. This suggests that none of these athletes were confident enough in their ability to make the Russian team to stick around (of course there might have been other, more personal or political reasons too). Think of the implications.

 

If you add in the three medals won by Russia, this means that fully nine of the twenty-four medals awarded in Rio were not just won by former Soviet states, but were actually won by Russians or former Russians. Almost 40% of all the medals were won by competitors who at one time or another competed for Russia. If Russia wins a medal in every weight class they only win 25% of the medals.The six former Russian medalists were not homegrown stars of Azerbaijan or Uzbekestan. They were transplants. 

 

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I think it's a good thing. gets more talent in the Olympics and get's the athletes more opportunities (and probably money). 

 

this last cycle saw American citizens try to make the Olympics for Ireland, Uruguay, Slovenia and probably others. There are also a good number of former members of the Cuban wrestling programs competing for other countries. And then there are all the foreign competitors with NCAA ties. 

 

all the cross pollination gets a thumbs up from me. the alternative is government's restricting individual's freedom and keep the essentially prisoners. 

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In greco, Arutyunyan (silver in at 66 k.) wrestled for Russia as recently as 2012 before switching to Armenia.  To my knowledge, he was born in Armenia, moved to Russia, and, after some controversy, moved back to Armenia.  These stories often have more complications under the surface observation.  Russia has pulled many athletes (or their parents during the Soviet era) from their native republics, so their stories are very complicated.  Factor in that hotbeds of wrestling (Ossetia, Dagestan, Chechnya, etc.) do not have independence and MUST represent Russia (which can be very complicated, i.g. violent tension between Russia and Chechnya).  Does UWW put something like a 2-year ban on an athlete switching national representation, since different nations can have vastly different citizenship laws?

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In greco, Arutyunyan (silver in at 66 k.) wrestled for Russia as recently as 2012 before switching to Armenia. To my knowledge, he was born in Armenia, moved to Russia, and, after some controversy, moved back to Armenia. These stories often have more complications under the surface observation. Russia has pulled many athletes (or their parents during the Soviet era) from their native republics, so their stories are very complicated. Factor in that hotbeds of wrestling (Ossetia, Dagestan, Chechnya, etc.) do not have independence and MUST represent Russia (which can be very complicated, i.g. violent tension between Russia and Chechnya). Does UWW put something like a 2-year ban on an athlete switching national representation, since different nations can have vastly different citizenship laws?

Caucasians are not "forced" to wrestle for the Russian Federation, they are Russian Federation citizens. It is their country.

 

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Caucasians are not "forced" to wrestle for the Russian Federation, they are Russian Federation citizens. It is their country.

 

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If they could wrestle for Team Dagestan, or Team South Ossetia, etc., over Team Russia I believe many of them would.  On the other hand, citizens of Puerto Rico or American Samoa can choose to try to make the US team or represent their protectorate.  You can debate the merits of the comparison, but I'll stick with my original statement.

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Yeah a few, MOST would not.

 

We're not "forved" to do anything for Russia, the Russian federation is our country.

 

You can stick to your original statement, but it is without any real point or merit.

 

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Let me give an actual example I am very familiar with.  Miron Kharchilava is a native Abkhazian.  When the Soviet Union broke up, he technically became a citizen of Georgia.  During the Georgia-Abkhazia civil war, his father and two cousins were killed by Georgian forces.  During his career Miron beat the likes of Nate Carr and Olympic champ Bogiev, but when he wanted to try to wrestle in the worlds the Russians told him he was Georgian and had to wrestle for Georgia, something he refused to do given what happened to his father.  Although Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia, it was not recognized by FILA as an independent nation.  It remains a region protected by the Russians, and the tables turned for a guy like Tsargush, who has been able to represent Russia.  A very fluid and unpredictable situation.

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Yeah a few, MOST would not.

 

We're not "forved" to do anything for Russia, the Russian federation is our country.

 

You can stick to your original statement, but it is without any real point or merit.

 

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Maybe no merit to you, but that is your view.  The fact that so many medal-winning wrestlers choose to leave "your federation" suggests my view has merit to most those defectors.

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I strongly believe they should have a waiting period of at least one full year, maybe two, before an athlete can compete for a new country.

 

I say this because I think its important for an athlete to have some semblance of allegiance to their "new" country, which is a part of what the Olympics is all about. And it might help reduce corruption too.

 

Watching the medal matches at 97kg was appalling. Saritov -- who the announcers said became a Romanian citizen in 2016 (what a coincidence) -- ran straight to a crowd of a bunch of Russians in Russian team apparel.  His Romanian coach walked over and handed him a Romanian flag, which he held up half-way for a couple seconds, and then gripped in one hand liked a piece of used toilet paper tissue, walked around briefly and then tossed it aside.  I was disgusted.  Then Ibragimov did basically the same thing, running straight to the crowd, hopped in the stands, and mugged for the cameras for a couple minutes surrounded by people with Russian team apparel.  The announcers noted that Ibragimov, like Saritov, only became an Uzbek citizen in 2016. 

 

I think this sort of country-hopping contributes to the corruption we see, too.  If a wrestler competes for Russia, can't make the team, and then presto, lands on the Uzbek team or Romanian team or whatever a couple months later, that means that a Russian ref can officiate his match.  Not that a 1-2 year waiting period would solve the problem, but lets not kid ourselves; in world-level competition, Russian refs will hand out points to ex-Russian wrestlers like Halloween candy. 

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imagine if UWW/IOC allowed more than one entry per country, as they should. What would the medal count look like if we saw russia send this lineup

 

57: lebedev, bogomoev, rashidov, musukaev

65: ramonov, bekbulatov, kurbanaliev

74 geduev, tsargush, tsabolov, 

84 sadullaev, kudiyamagomedov

97: boltukaev, gatsalov, gadisov

125: makhov

 

over/under I would say is 5 more medals

Edited by newyorkwrestler

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In greco, Arutyunyan (silver in at 66 k.) wrestled for Russia as recently as 2012 before switching to Armenia.  To my knowledge, he was born in Armenia, moved to Russia, and, after some controversy, moved back to Armenia.  These stories often have more complications under the surface observation.  Russia has pulled many athletes (or their parents during the Soviet era) from their native republics, so their stories are very complicated.  Factor in that hotbeds of wrestling (Ossetia, Dagestan, Chechnya, etc.) do not have independence and MUST represent Russia (which can be very complicated, i.g. violent tension between Russia and Chechnya).  Does UWW put something like a 2-year ban on an athlete switching national representation, since different nations can have vastly different citizenship laws?

if u can represtn other country u stay 2 year, like Opan sat 

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I strongly believe they should have a waiting period of at least one full year, maybe two, before an athlete can compete for a new country.

 

I say this because I think its important for an athlete to have some semblance of allegiance to their "new" country, which is a part of what the Olympics is all about. And it might help reduce corruption too.

 

Watching the medal matches at 97kg was appalling. Saritov -- who the announcers said became a Romanian citizen in 2016 (what a coincidence) -- ran straight to a crowd of a bunch of Russians in Russian team apparel.  His Romanian coach walked over and handed him a Romanian flag, which he held up half-way for a couple seconds, and then gripped in one hand liked a piece of used toilet paper tissue, walked around briefly and then tossed it aside.  I was disgusted.  Then Ibragimov did basically the same thing, running straight to the crowd, hopped in the stands, and mugged for the cameras for a couple minutes surrounded by people with Russian team apparel.  The announcers noted that Ibragimov, like Saritov, only became an Uzbek citizen in 2016. 

 

I think this sort of country-hopping contributes to the corruption we see, too.  If a wrestler competes for Russia, can't make the team, and then presto, lands on the Uzbek team or Romanian team or whatever a couple months later, that means that a Russian ref can officiate his match.  Not that a 1-2 year waiting period would solve the problem, but lets not kid ourselves; in world-level competition, Russian refs will hand out points to ex-Russian wrestlers like Halloween candy. 

I think all that is very good and cool and don't see how it would add to corruption. 

 

what if Palacio had won a medal wrestling for Uruguay or Habat for Slovenia? I'd be cool with whatever flag they felt like waving. 

 

I particuarly liked how Ramonov held up both the Ossetian and Russian flag and Sadulaev likewise with the Dagestani flag. I also saw several Sakha Republic flags in the stands, presumably for Lebedev, even though he was eliminated in day 1 of freestyle and this was day 2 and 3.

 

I also like how all the Brazilians in the stands were waving flags of their favorite soccer teams. It was a nice change of pace. 

 

I know they do the national anthem and all that on the medal stand but whatever, the real point of the Olympics (besides making IOC officials rich) is not a competition between nations but to celebrate sport and have everyone around the globe join in the fun. using national federations is just the easiest way of organizing everything. people take it way to seriously. 

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I strongly believe they should have a waiting period of at least one full year, maybe two, before an athlete can compete for a new country.

 

I think its important for an athlete to have some semblance of allegiance to their "new" country, which is a part of what the Olympics is all about.

 

Totally agree. Athletes should have to swear a blood oath to the country they want to represent before participating in the Olympics. I wonder if Hitler and Goebbels had to deal with this type of stuff when they were planning the 1936 Berlin Games?

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I think all that is very good and cool and don't see how it would add to corruption. 

 

what if Palacio had won a medal wrestling for Uruguay or Habat for Slovenia? I'd be cool with whatever flag they felt like waving. 

 

I particuarly liked how Ramonov held up both the Ossetian and Russian flag and Sadulaev likewise with the Dagestani flag. I also saw several Sakha Republic flags in the stands, presumably for Lebedev, even though he was eliminated in day 1 of freestyle and this was day 2 and 3.

 

I also like how all the Brazilians in the stands were waving flags of their favorite soccer teams. It was a nice change of pace. 

 

I know they do the national anthem and all that on the medal stand but whatever, the real point of the Olympics (besides making IOC officials rich) is not a competition between nations but to celebrate sport and have everyone around the globe join in the fun. using national federations is just the easiest way of organizing everything. people take it way to seriously. 

 

Really?  You are cool with Olympians embracing the flag of a country other than that which sent them?

 

If Habat wrestled for the U.S. team, you'd be fine with him running in circles around the mat holding the Slovenian flag over his head if he won a medal?  Or Palacio wrapping a Uruguayan flag around his body if he won?  If an Iranian or Russian defector came to the U.S. and made the team, you'd be perfectly fine with them waving their native flag after their medal match, with all cameras on them?

 

I (and I think most) would see that as a slight against the country they represent, and it would be a scandal on national news.  For the same reason, I would definitely not be cool with Palacio or Habat waving a U.S. flag after having chosen to represent Uruguay/Slovenia.  I would find it incredibly disrespectful.

 

You are kidding yourself if you think that nationalistic pride isn't a big part of the Olympics.  Its a celebration of sport, yes, but it is also the single most nationalistic international event that exists in the world today.  You may choose not to partake in that nationalism, which is fine, but there is a reason that gold medalists routinely break into tears when their national anthem is played at the medal ceremony. 

Edited by BAC

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You are kidding yourself if you think that nationalistic pride isn't a big part of the Olympics.  Its a celebration of sport, yes, but it is also the single most nationalistic international event that exists in the world today.  You may choose not to partake in that nationalism, which is fine, but there is a reason that gold medalists routinely break into tears when their national anthem is played at the medal ceremony. 

 

Christ man. Did you just thaw out from a cryogenic deep freeze that began after the final planning meeting for the 1936 Olympics?

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Really?  You are cool with Olympians embracing the flag of a country other than that which sent them?

 

If Habat wrestled for the U.S. team, you'd be fine with him running in circles around the mat holding the Slovenian flag over his head if he won a medal?  Or Palacio wrapping a Uruguayan flag around his body if he won?  If an Iranian or Russian defector came to the U.S. and made the team, you'd be perfectly fine with them waving their native flag after their medal match, with all cameras on them?

 

For the same reason, I would definitely not be cool with Palacio or Habat waving a U.S. flag after having chosen to represent Uruguay/Slovenia.  It would be incredibly disrespectful.

 

You are kidding yourself if you think that nationalistic pride isn't a big part of the Olympics.  Its a celebration of sport, yes, but it is also the single most nationalistic international event that exists in the world today.  You may choose not to partake in that nationalism, which is fine, but there is a reason that gold medalists routinely break into tears when their national anthem is played at the medal ceremony. 

yeah I don't care about any of that. It's a sporting event, not a world war. 

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