Turkish wrestler shamed in Twitter ring avoids count on racism ban for now
Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Rıza Kayaalp (C) has been cleared to participate in next month’s World Championships after FILA's latest decision. AA PhotoWrestling’s governing body (FILA) has delayed Rıza Kayaalp’s suspension for racism, announcing that the case will be reviewed after next month’s World Championships.
Kayaalp was handed a six-month ban by FILA earlier this month, but the Turkish Wrestling Federation (TGF) appealed the decision. FILA then ruled to postpone the case, opting to review the case against the former world and European champion athlete’s anti-Armenian tweets.
A day earlier, TGF Chairman Hamza Yerlikaya defended Kayaalp, calling the ban, which barred him from next month’s World Championships, was “unlawful” and vowed to take the issue to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if their appeal to FILA was not successful.
Yerlikaya hinted that the TGF would argue the controversial tweets had not been written by Kayaalp.
In June, an account nicknamed @rizakayaalpriza, which was believed to belong to the champion wrestler, blamed Gezi Park protesters for “leaving the streets to Armenians” and claimed that “Armenia is having a festival” seeing the anti-government rallies in Turkey. After controversy erupted, the tweets were deleted but Kayaalp indirectly admitted to posting those tweets when he spoke to the state-run Anadolu Agency, where he said he was “misunderstood” and said his tweets were about people who were burning and crushing things.
“There is not a racist statement by our kid,” Yerlikaya said. “There are some tweets posted by second or third persons. That is not certain, either.”