IOC bans Russian freestyle wrestler Sadulaev from Olympic qualification. GETTY IMAGES

Russian wrestler Abdulrashid Sadulaev, a two-time Olympic freestyle wrestling champion, has been banned from competing in the qualifying tournament for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, according to the Russian Wrestling Federation.

The qualifying tournament will be held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, from 5 to 7 April. Athletes who reach the final will receive a quota for the Paris Olympics, but Abdulrashid Sadulaev has been declared "ineligible" by the international governing body of wrestling, United World Wrestling (UWW).

"Sadulaev has been ruled out of the European OG Qualifiers in Baku after he failed to meet the eligibility criteria set by the International Olympic Committee for Individual Neutral Athletes.

"Each Individual Neutral Athlete goes through a rigorous vetting process by UWW in preparation for any tournament and is examined based on the criteria set by the IOC which rules thorough background and social media checks of individuals from Russia and Belarus," UWW said in a statement.

"After another pseudo-check, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has published new lists of athletes who were not allowed to take part in international tournaments. Unfortunately, the captain of our team and two-time Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev was among them," the Russian Wrestling Federation said.

Sadulaev after winning the 97kg title at Tokyo 2020. GETTY IMAGES
Sadulaev after winning the 97kg title at Tokyo 2020. GETTY IMAGES

At 27, Abdulrashid Sadulaev is a decorated freestyle wrestler with two Olympic gold medals (2016, 2020), five World Championship titles (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021) and numerous other accolades, including wins at the European Continental Championship, the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix and the European Games.

"Even if Sadulaev arrives in Baku, he will not be allowed to compete because of to the IOC ban. The United World Wrestling contacted us and gave us the opportunity to make a replacement immediately. Alikhan Zhabrailov will compete in Baku," said Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Russian Wrestling Federation.

Abdulrashid Sadulaev, the Russian team's flag-bearer at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, was denied entry to Romania for the 2024 European Wrestling Championships in February.

Ukraine's wrestling authorities, together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Olympic Committee, have written to the IOC and the International Wrestling Federation about the exclusion of Russian wrestlers from qualifying tournaments.

"We have repeatedly stated that we will continue to fight to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in international competitions. We are gathering evidence, appealing to international institutions, and we believe that they will make the right decision," said Yuriy Kopytko, interim president of the Ukrainian Wrestling Association.

The letter from the Ukrainian federation reads: "There are representatives of the Russian Federation who support the war in Ukraine among the athletes who were allowed to participate as neutrals in the wrestling qualification for the 2024 Summer Olympics, including Anvar Allakhiarov, Sergei Semenov, Artur Naifonov, Nadezhda Sokolova, Natalia Malysheva, Alina Kasabieva, Roman Vlasov, Olga Khoroshavtseva, and Abdulrashid Sadulaev."