Ara Abrahamian

Ara Abrahamian (Armenian: Արա Աբրահամյան; born 27 July 1975) is an Armenian-Swedish wrestler in Greco-Roman wrestling. He has won two World Championships in the 76 kg and 84 kg weight classes and a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the 84 kg weight class. He also won the bronze match at the 2008 Summer Olympics,[1] but he rejected the medal because of a controversial ruling in the semifinal. During the highly publicised medal ceremony, Abrahamian protested by placing the medal in the center of the mat and walking away. He was later disqualified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and stripped of his rejected bronze medal for disrupting the award ceremony.[2] This resulted in him receiving a lifetime ban from the Olympics. He was also banned from wrestling for two years by FILA, but the ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in March 2009.

Ara Abrahamian
Ara Abrahamian in Jan 2014.jpg
Ara Abrahamian during the Swedish Sports Awards inside the Stockholm Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden in January 2014
Personal information
Full nameAra Abrahamian
Born (1975-07-27) 27 July 1975 (age 45)
Leninakan, Armenian SSR,
(now Gyumri, Armenia)
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight84 kg (185 lb)
Country Armenia
ClubSpårvägens BK
Coached byRyszard Świerad


Abrahamian began his wrestling career at the age of eight in Armenia. He became Armenian junior champion on three occasions. In 1994 he arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, to compete in the Stockholm Junior Open, which he won. He defected from the Armenian national team and joined the Swedish team in 1998.

Participation in the OlympicsEdit

2000 Summer OlympicsEdit

Abrahamian represented Sweden in Greco-Roman Wrestling in the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 69-76 kg weight category.

2004 Summer OlympicsEdit

Abrahamian's participation in the 2004 Summer Olympics was planned to mark the end of his career, and he was determined to bring home the gold medal. After losing the prolonged final with Alexei Michine of Russia, Abrahamian wrote on his homepage: "The final ended 1-1. That means losing, in case you meet a Russian."[3]

Pelle Svensson, a former two-time world champion (Greco-Roman 100 kg class) and member of board of FILA from 1990 to 2007, witnessed how the Russian team leader Mikhail Mamiashvili was giving signs to the referee.[4] When Svensson approached him and informed him that this was not allowed according to the rules, Mamiashvili responded by saying: "you should know that this may lead to your death".[4] Svensson later found proof that the Romanian referee was bribed (according to Svensson the referee had received over one million Swedish krona).[4]

2008 Summer OlympicsEdit


Following a loss in the semi finals of the Greco-Roman 84 kg event at the 2008 Summer Olympics to the eventual winner Andrea Minguzzi of Italy, he and the Swedish coach Leo Mylläri disputed the judges' ruling. Mylläri accused the judges of corruption because they initially awarded Abrahamian a point, but after the round they assigned the point and the match to Minguzzi because Abrahamian had his hand in the blue zone. Normally, having a hand in the blue zone is not penalized. Minguzzi had almost his whole body in the blue zone earlier in this match.[5] Therefore, the Swedes demanded a video review of the match, but the referees refused to review the recording of the incidents nor consider the written Swedish protest.[6]

Medal ceremonyEdit

Abrahamian returned to the event to compete in the resulting bronze bout and won. After he received his medal at the ceremony, he calmly shook the hand of the presenter and then the hand of the other bronze medal winner. He then stepped off the podium and placed the medal in the center of the wrestling mat and left the ceremony.[7][8] Abrahamian complained later about the corrupt judges and declared that he was retiring from the sport. Abrahamian says that the judges had been bribed, and reminded that the judge through marriage is related to Raphaël Martinetti, the President of FILA, the governing body of wrestling.[9]

IOC hearingEdit

The International Olympic Committee held a "disciplinary hearing" on Abrahamian after the incident,[10] where it was decided that Abrahamian would be disqualified and excluded from the Olympic Games due to "violating the spirit of fair play".[11] After the hearing, Abrahamian declared to a Swedish newspaper that the FILA representative stated after 1.5 hours into the hearing that he could not speak English, and he merely read some lines from a paper he had written in French.[12] Abrahamian was later banned for life, as he did not apologize to the IOC. The medal was not awarded to him or to Chinese wrestler Ma Sanyi, because it did not happen in the award ceremony.

CAS hearingEdit

The Court of Arbitration for Sport also held a hearing based on the request which was issued by Abrahamian and the Swedish Olympic Committee against the FILA. Preceding the hearing CAS declared in a statement that Abrahamian and the SOC "do not seek from the CAS any particular relief" regarding the ranking of the medals or a review of the IOC decision to exclude Abrahamian from the games.[13]

Following the CAS issued an arbitration strongly criticizing FILA.[14] Not challenging the outcome of the match and the technical judgments, the arbitration stated that the FILA is required to provide an appeal jury capable of dealing promptly with the claims of the athletes. Moreover, CAS, concluded that "In any event, FILA did not follow Article 22 properly, if at all, or provide any other appropriate appeal mechanism in this case."[14]

The chairman of the Swedish Olympic Committee, Stefan Lindeberg, commented that the decision once and for all shows that FILA did not act correctly and that they did not follow their own rules of fair play.

In February 2009 CAS rejected an appeal requesting reinstatement of the bronze medal.[15]

FILA verdictEdit

On 6 November 2008, FILA published the verdicts of their investigation, in which they suspended Abrahamian and coach Myllari for two years, and banned Sweden's wrestling federation from hosting international events for the same duration. Money fines were also issued to all three parties. In their statement FILA justified the verdict with Abrahamian's "scandalous behaviour" and "serious lack of Olympic spirit". They also declared that "the coach has been judged equally guilty since he did not intervene to calm his wrestler" and that "the federation was responsible for the behavior of its members, the wrestler and the coach, which was reprehensible". They also stated that the decision by the judges in the disputed bout was made according to the rules.[16]

Freed from banEdit

In March 2009 the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned FILA's ban on Abrahamian. On 27 August 2009 it was revealed that Abrahamian was free to continue wrestling, that he would not be banned at all for his actions during the medal ceremony, that he does not have to pay any fine to FILA, and that there will be no obstacle for the Swedish wrestling organization to host tournaments in the future.[17]

Major achievementsEdit

Year Meet Venue Age group Weight class
Competing for Results
1994 European Championships Istanbul, Turkey Juniors 74.0   Armenia 077th
1996 European Championships Budapest, Hungary Seniors 74.0   Armenia 1212th
1998 World Championships Gävle, Sweden Seniors 85.0   Armenia 1717th
1999 World Championships Athens, Greece Seniors 76.0   Sweden 077th
2000 European Championships Moscow, Russia Seniors 76.0   Sweden 066th
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia Seniors 76.0   Sweden 066th
2001 European Championships Istanbul, Turkey Seniors 76.0   Sweden 022nd
2001 World Championships Patras, Greece Seniors 76.0   Sweden 011st
2002 European Championships Seinäjoki, Finland Seniors 84.0   Sweden 022nd
2002 World Championships Moscow, Russia Seniors 84.0   Sweden 011st
2003 World Championships Créteil, France Seniors 84.0   Sweden 022nd
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece Seniors 84.0   Sweden 022nd
2006 World Championships Guangzhou, China Seniors 84.0   Sweden 088th
2007 World Championships Baku, Azerbaijan Seniors 84.0   Sweden 055th
2008 European Championships Tampere, Finland Seniors 84.0   Sweden 033rd
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China Seniors 84.0   Sweden 993rd, later Disqualified


  1. ^ Ara Abrahamian profile Archived August 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, official 2008 Olympics site, 2008-08-14
  2. ^ "International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripps bronze medal for disrupting award ceremony". Archived from the original on August 19, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Official home page. See entry dated August 31, 2004 in the news section (Swedish)
  4. ^ a b c Sjöberg, Daniel (2008-08-14). "Pelle Svensson: Jag blev mordhotad" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. Retrieved 2008-08-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Abrahamian: "Jag är stolt över vad jag gjorde"" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Ara lurad på OS-final" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan. 2008-08-14. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Wrestler tosses aside bronze medal". Sports Illustrated. CNN. 2008-08-14. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Hamilton, Douglas (2008-08-14). "Angry Swede throws down medal and quits". Sport. Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Mattdomaren är kusin med presidenten för internationella brottningförbundet" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan. 2008-08-14. Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  10. ^ "IOC disciplinary meeting over Abrahamian". Reuters. 2008-08-15. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Full text of the IOC EB Decision regarding Mr Ara Abrahamian" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 7, 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)  (29.2 KB)
  12. ^ "Finas representant kunde inte engelska" (in Swedish). Expressen. 2008-08-16. Archived from the original on 2008-08-17. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  13. ^ "CAS asked to rule on Swedish wrestler case". The Associated Press. 2008-08-21.
  14. ^ a b "CAS arbitration N° CAS OG 08/007 FINAL AWARD in the arbitration between SNOC/Abrahamian & FILA" (PDF). Court of Arbitration for Sport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Swedish wrestler loses bid to have Olympic bronze reinstated The Local, 2009-02-16
  16. ^ "IOC disciplinary meeting over Abrahamian". USA Today. 6 November 2008.
  17. ^ "Abrahamian slipper straff" (in Swedish). Expressen. 27 August 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit