Russia withdraws from 2018 Wrestling World Cup
First reported by The Washington Post and Radio Free Europe, Russian Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has put out a statement that in an act of “direct and open discrimination”, the United States is refusing to grant visas to Russian athletes for the 2018 Wrestling World Cup in Iowa City.
News of their withdrawal is substantiated by USA Wrestling offering an invitation to Mongolia and India as replacements.
Russian Athletes Future in Question
The popular MMA twitter account “MMA TEAM DAGESTAN” has historically been reliable breaking news related to Russian mixed martial arts and combat sports. They are already reporting that the Russian head coach has confirmed they will not be attending the 2018 Wrestling World Cup.
Breaking; Russian wrestlers will not perform at the World Cup in the United States because of problems in visas. This was reported by the head coach of the freestyle wrestling team Valeriy Feldsherov. #wrestling pic.twitter.com/pg4Q7bURSb
— MMA TEAM DAGESTAN (@MMATeamDagestan) March 28, 2018
If this is to believed, it would make the reigning world champions USA Men’s Freestyle team the overwhelming favorites to win the world cup championship as well.
The World Cup took its first loss earlier this year, when the Iranian Men’s Freestyle team pulled out of competition for various reasons.
There are several reasons why the United States could be refusing to allow Russian athletes to compete in Iowa City. The first of which would be the widespread, state-sponsored program of Performance Enhancing Drugs, as seen in the recent documentary Icarus.
Or perhaps the decision is a political move, a power play in ever dynamic relations with the Russian Federation.
Potential MMA Ramifications
If it is to be believed that the United States is truly refusing visas for athletes representing Russia, then this is certainly an effect that could bleed into the world of mixed martial arts.
Russian MMA competitors have certainly had their fair share of trouble securing visas to the US in the past. One example is Bellator‘s “Frodo” Khasbulaev, who did not compete for years after he could not obtain his visa. Requesting a release from Bellator, Frodo sat on the shelf for two years before he could finally go back to competing in Russia.