Foley's Friday Mailbag: July 26, 2019

According to online sources, the arbitration date for Yianni Diakomihalis' complaint has been set for July 29.

The complaint surrounds Yianni's dispute following the video review at the end of his second match against Zain Retherford at Final X in New Jersey. The review, which happened after time had expired, determined that in the final scramble the points were in Retherford's favor. The change of outcome led coach Rob Koll to file grievances with the USOC and trigger the date for an arbitration hearing.

There isn't much more to say on the topic that hasn't already been written, except to reiterate that processing competition claims through the courts is extremely disappointing. The wrestling community should be better than to take their grievances off the mats as it establishes a precedent that costs money, time, and the proper focus and preparation of athletes. Also, I think that the complaint being made here is in bad faith, and meant to upend the result by any means necessary rather than accept an unpalatable decision by the refereeing body.

I enjoy Yianni's wrestling and know he would enjoy a great chance to medal at the World Championships. But … he lost the match in New Jersey and that outcome should not be revisited by a room full of suits two months after the fact. The focus of USA Wrestling and the starting 10 should be on Nur-Sultan and the impact it will have on the chances for Team USA to win a multitude of medals in Tokyo.

As a side note, Yianni's complaint would seem weightier if the USA used Japan's Olympic qualification system. That system states that any returning world medalist is automatically Team Japan's representative at the Summer Games. I don't think it changes my stance, but it would charge up a touch more sympathy.

To your questions …

Q: Why doesn't international wrestling use a true repechage or wrestleback system where it's double elimination? Many wrestlers travel many miles and spend a lot of money only to be able to wrestle one match if they lose in the first round of a tourney and their opponent doesn't advance to the finals. The current system doesn't necessarily show who the top six wrestlers are in that particular tourney; there's a lot left to chance based on each wrestler's draw. I understand that the current system allows for a greater chance of diversity in the country's medalists and streamlines the tourney but I would still prefer a system where the top six wrestlers on that particular day(s) compete for the medals.
-- Craig T.

Foley: The regulations were changed last year to force any bracket with fewer than 10 wrestlers to be competed in round-robin (nordic) style in part to ensure that the athletes were getting a large number of matches. Unfortunately, there are still larger tournaments where some of the first wrestlers to lose don't have an opportunity in repechage.

However slight of a compensation it might be to some of the wrestlers or concerned fans, there are almost always large camps before these tournaments. Others have camps that follow. Perhaps no country does a better job than India to capitalize on those training opportunities. Their women and men often spend several weeks visiting countries after competition, much like we saw with Bajrang staying in NYC after BTS.

For the reasons you stated, I doubt we'll see a big change in the way the tournaments are laid out but know that this has been a concern and that local organizers have done well to answer the call and provide more value for those traveling to events. Also, UWW does support some of the athletes you might be worried are spending extra money, as does Olympic solidarity. It's a big complex system, but there is a lot of financial and educational support for developing nations and athletes.

Artur Taymazov

Q: Artur Taymazov has long been in the conversation for greatest freestyle wrestlers ever. Now that he has two of his three Olympic gold medals stripped, where do you put him? Top five? Top 10? Outside the top 10?
-- Mike C.

Foley: Good riddance.

In my personal opinion he ranks nowhere. While he may have the gifts to be a top-level competitor, I think that failing the two re-tests for which he was eligible to be re-tested (taken four years apart) all but proves that there were more instances of doping.

The most recent test failure is still subject to an appeal, which Taymazov has planned to execute. The decision should be done in about a month.


Erica Wiebe: On the Shoulders of Giants

Teaser: Cadet Worlds

Q: Prior to the Yasar Dogu, did you think about the possibility of Frank Chamizo forfeiting in the finals? It seemed like a lot of people were upset, but I can't blame him for doing it.
-- Mike C.

Foley: No, it really hadn't crossed my mind that anyone would forfeit. Once they arrived, Chamizo and Burroughs' rankings for the World Championships were already pretty set as long as they both placed at the event. If for some reason Chamizo hadn't entered or hadn't placed in the top five then Burroughs could have jumped him.

Nobody likes seeing a forfeit, but this is a long season and Chamizo competed in several Ranking Series tournaments across the world. The World Championships and ticket to Tokyo 2020 are Chamizo's main goals and I don't really think it was awful that he stayed focused on those goals considering the risk of injury he might face against Burroughs.

I can tell you that there was no regulation imagined for this situation, partly because nobody knew (thought plenty had hoped) the Ranking Series would be embraced as it has been. While they may change the regulations in the future please remember that you can hardly make someone wrestle who doesn't want to compete. Are we to estimate and legislate how they feel? Can UWW tell Chamizo he's not hurt, or otherwise incapacitated? No.

What can and should happen is the creation of financial incentives for these tournaments. Again, we are in the infant stages for these events, but the hope is that in future years more money will be available.

Q: Have you heard anything about USA Wrestling's Olympic Trials Qualifier in December? Any idea where it's going to be held? I have not seen any details beyond that it's in December.
-- Mike C.

Foley: From what I understand the Olympic Trials Qualifier will be in Las Vegas and the procedures are posted online. A note that although these are technically in 2019 they will serve as the U.S. Open for 2020.


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pkenne203 (1) about 4 months ago
I agree with Craig T, unlike NFL or baseball we only get one chance a year to watch these athletes compete at the worlds or Olympics. I wish they would adopt the America style double elimination for a true bronze medal and top 8.
This is the structure that draws 18k fans at the NCAA’s which is the largest indoor wrestling turn out in the world. (Olympics gets 6k fans).
Every year I watch the results of the 3rd place match and there is always 2-3 guys in the 10 weights that lost to someone other than the first or second place finisher and was able to redeem themselves. These wrestlers would not have had a chance to wrestle back under the repachage system. Most recent examples for 2019 include 157 pantaleo & 165 Marsteller. Sometimes ppl lose to a fluke or a bad referee call. This is especially i important in a rules system where there is no over time and a wrestler can lose a tied match on criteria.
They also need to bring back 10 weight classes to the Olympics.
Someone should start a petition