Mongolian coaches banned 3 years for Olympic stripping protest

Mongolia coaches strip off their clothes at the Olympics (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

The two Mongolian wrestling coaches who stripped off most of their clothing while on the mat to protest an official's call against their wrestler at the 2016 Rio Olympics have been hit with a monetary penalty ... and a costly three-year suspension.

According to a letter sent to the Mongolian federation by United World Wrestling on Sept. 13 and forwarded to The Associated Press on Wednesday, coaches Tserenbaatar Tsogbayar and Byambarinchen Bayaraa have been banned from all international competition until August 2019.

In addition, Mongolia's national body has also been fined 50,000 Swiss francs, or approximately $51,000.

The protest by the Mongolian coaches came just moments after referees awarded a match -- and, ultimately, the bronze medal -- to the opponent of Mongolia's Mandakhnaran Ganzorig. Uzbekistan's Ikhtiyor Navruzov, trailing 7-6, was awarded a late point after the Mongolian wrestler fled a hold and celebrated too early, with less than 10 seconds left. The officials determined that Ganzorig had failed to engage his opponent, awarding a point to the Uzbek wrestler, thus tying the score.

The Mongolians protested the call and lost the appeal. Per Olympic rules, the other wrestler gained a point, making the final score 8-7 for Navruzov, resulting in a bronze medal for the Uzbek in men's freestyle at 65 kilograms/143 pounds on the final day of competition, Saturday, August 21.

Navruzov's arm being raised was not the end of the action. Here's how InterMat described the incident: "When the protest went Uzbekistan's way, the two Mongolian coaches jumped on the mat and laid down, pleading with the officials to change their decision. When the referees didn't reverse their decision, the coaches started angrily stripping off their clothes. One coach peeled off his jacket and shirt, while the other one took off everything but his underwear and socks. The video received tons of play online, and was the only wrestling-related footage on the NBC Nightly News' 6:30 p.m. Eastern broadcast on the network granted exclusive coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics."

Both Mongolian coaches refused to leave the mat until they were escorted by the Brazilian National Public Security Force.


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