Minguzzi's surprise Greco-Roman gold overshadowed by protest

Updated: August 14, 2008, 3:01 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BEIJING -- Andrea Minguzzi of Italy was the surprise winner of the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling 84-kilogram gold medal, defeating Zoltan Fodor of Hungary.

But Minguzzi's improbable win was overshadowed by an incident involving his semifinal win over Ara Abrahamian of Sweden. Abrahamian, the defending silver medalist, shouted at officials and stormed away from the podium during the medal ceremony, unhappy that points had been taken away during the semifinal match by judges.

[+] EnlargeAra Abrahamian
AP Photo/Ed WrayAra Abrahamian of Sweden shouted at the judges after his loss in the 84-kg semifinals, then walked off the podium during the medal ceremony.

Abrahamian had to be restrained by teammates after he approached the referee and judges after the decision. During the medal ceremony, he stepped off the podium, left his bronze medal in the middle of the wrestling mat and walked away.

Minguzzi said Abrahamian's walkout "did in a way spoil the victory ceremony for me."

"Certainly one can always question decisions made in the course of refereeing, but in sports it is appropriate to show sportsmanship and accept the results," he said.

Abrahamian faces a hearing with the International Olympic Committee over the incident.

"There will be a disciplinary hearing on this matter," an IOC official told Reuters. It was not clear when the hearing would take place.

[+] Enlargebronze protest
Peter Parks/AFP/Getty ImagesSweden's Ara Abrahamian faces a hearing with the IOC after stalking off the medal stand and dumping his bronze in the middle of the wrestling mat.

If the IOC considers his explanations are not sufficient or if it rules he has brought his sport into disrepute he could risk being formally stripped of his medal.

"I don't care about this medal. I wanted gold," Abrahamian said. "This will be my last match. I wanted to take gold, so I consider this Olympics a failure."

Swedish coach Leo Myllari said of the decision, "It's all politics." He did not say if he would lodge a formal protest.

Minguzzi, who upset 2004 gold medalist Aleksey Mishin of Russia in the quarterfinals, was 45th in last year's world championships.

In the final, Fodor won the first period 1-1 on a tiebreaker, but Minguzzi won the second 1-1 before throwing Fodor in the third to win 4-0.

Fodor was eighth in the world last year and, only three years ago, was 30th in the world juniors.

The second bronze medal was won by Nazmi Avluca of Turkey.

The IOC said it was investigating the dispute with the wrestling federation FILA, which Abrahamian said "does not play fair."

"We are in contact with the wrestling federation to establish the exact facts," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.

In the 96-kg class, Aslanbek Khushtov won the gold medal, giving Russia its third gold of the Games. Mirko Englich of Germany won the silver. Asset Mambetov of Kazakhstan and Adam Wheeler of the United States took bronze.

Khushtov, who won the World Cup and European Championship titles this year, was way ahead on points after the first of three periods. He turned Englich with a spectacular throw in the second to clinch the final.

At 120 kg, Cuba's Mijain Lopez, the dominant big man in Greco-Roman wrestling since the Athens Olympics, beat chief rival Khasan Baroev of Russia to win gold.

Lopez, a world champion in every year except one since Athens, tossed 2004 gold medalist Baroev for a 5-point move in the first period Thursday, then won the second period 1-1 on tiebreaker under the best-of-three format.

Baroev has won only one world title since 2004 and has been supplanted by Lopez as the premier super heavyweight. They are the only two wrestlers to win the weight class the past five years.

Winning the bronzes were Mindaugas Mizgaitis of Lithuania and Yuri Patriekeev of Armenia.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.