— Published 31 August 2023

Suspended for a handshake

Unease in the world of weightlifting. An Iranian athlete, Mostafa Rajaï, has been suspended for life by his own national federation. He is accused of having… shaken hands with an opponent. In the eyes of the Tehran authorities, the veteran weightlifter was guilty of congratulating an Israeli rival, Maksim Sverisky, with a handshake at the Masters World Championships in Wieliczka, Poland (photo above). A bronze medalist, the Iranian posed for a photo while shaking hands with his silver medal-winning Israeli opponent after the podium ceremony. “The Iranian Weightlifting Federation has banned Mostafa Rajaï for life from all sports facilities in the country and has dismissed the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia,” announced the Iranian body, quoted by the national news agency IRNA. Mostafa Rajaï, now in his forties, has long been a member of the national team. He notably took part in the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Thailand. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize Israel and prohibits all contact between Iranian and Israeli athletes.