Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Forget a Rio repeat

After violating anti-doping laws, Olympic gold medal wrestler Karam Gaber is banned from going to this year’s Summer Games, reports Abeer Anwar

Al-Ahram Weekly

Greco-Roman wrestler Karam Gaber, Egypt's gold medal Olympian, has been suspended for two years for violating anti-doping rules and as a consequence will miss the 2016 summer Rio de Janeiro Games after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his appeal.

Late in August, Gaber was hit with the suspension by United World Wrestling (UWW) after breaking anti-doping rules. The world governing body, which oversees wrestling at the Olympics, also fined the Egyptian Wrestling Federation 20,000 Swiss francs (around LE160,000) after Gaber was adjudged to have “either failed to file doping tests or missed them”. UWW suspended Gaber after he failed to fulfill the whereabouts requirement for drug testing.

The two-time Olympic medalist will not be permitted to participate in any competition organised or licensed by UWW for two years starting August 2015.

The suspension means Gaber will not be eligible to return until August 2017.

The UWW anti-doping rules allowed the decision to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days after its reception. At the same time, Egypt’s Sports Minister Khaled Abdel Aziz agreed to back the Olympic player by hiring a Tunisian lawyer experienced in such lawsuits. Still, the appeal was rejected.

Gaber is one of Egypt’s most decorated Olympians, winning the gold medal in the men’s Greco-Roman 96kg weight category at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and winning a silver in 84kg at the 2012 London Olympics.

Born in 1979 in the coastal city of Alexandria, Gaber, the fourth of seven children, started his Greco-Roman wrestling career at the age of seven but hardly imagined that he would turn out to be one of Egypt’s all-time sporting icons.

In 2004, Gaber won Egypt’s first gold medal since the 1948 Olympic Games. He needed only one minute and nine seconds to toss former world champion Mehmet Ozal from Turkey three times during an 11-0 semi-final decision, and three minutes and 22 seconds to throw world champion Ramaz Nozadze from Georgia three times in a 12-2 decision to claim the Olympic gold.

Gaber became Egypt’s seventh gold medalist after Al-Sayed Noseir and Ibrahim Mustafa (Amsterdam 1928); Khedr Al-Touni, Anwar Misbah (Berlin 1936); and Ibrahim Shams and Mahmoud Fayyad (London 1948).

Gaber was also involved in several altercations with the Egyptian Wrestling Federation and decided to quit the game in order to focus on K-1 fights. However, the nostalgic wrestler reversed his decision at the beginning of 2011 and resumed training in order to qualify for the London Games. He won the gold medal in the African Championship to secure his London ticket. A year earlier he stormed past all his opponents in the Arab Games held in Qatar in December 2011, claiming the gold.

Hassan Al-Haddad, head of the Egyptian Wrestling Federation, accused the player’s business manager of being the main cause behind the suspension after not recording Gaber’s whereabouts data at the anti-doping agency. Al-Haddad added that Gaber was completely innocent of the charge. “He is completely sound and did not turn to drugs. He is aware and stable.”

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