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Georgian Wrestling Chief Arrested Amid Assault, Corruption Allegations

Gega Gegeshidze has been president of the federation since December 2017.
Gega Gegeshidze has been president of the federation since December 2017.

Georgian police have arrested the head of the country's wrestling federation on assault charges stemming from a clash with a wrestler at the recent national championships.

"An investigation into the event revealed that Gega Tamaz Gegeshidze physically assaulted sportsman Zurab Datunashvili during a confrontation in the Sports Palace on January 11," the Interior Ministry said in a statement late on January 22.

The allegations stem from video that appears to show Gegeshidze attacking two-time European Greco-Roman wrestling champion Datunashvili after the wrestler appealed his loss in the finals against Robert Kobiashvili.

In the video, Gegeshidze looks to be holding a metal object in the hand he strikes Datunashvili with, leaving the wrestler covered in blood from a cut above his eye.

Datunashvili told RFE/RL on January 22 that the fight was sparked by animosity between him and the federation over his 2018 protest over coaching decisions he felt were unfair. He has also alleged corruption in the federation.

Despite the video evidence, Gegeshidze, president of the federation since December 2017, has denied the accusations and promised to cooperate with the police investigation.

Some of the country's top wrestlers, including Olympic, world, and European champion Vladimer Khinchegashvili, have rallied in support of Gegeshidze, saying the incident may impact this year's qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

"Believe me, no one is happy," he told RFE/RL.

"We can't change our preparations and taking into consideration the very important season ahead, with Olympic spots at stake, I hope this misunderstanding can be soon put behind us," he added.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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