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Video replays help pin down errors

By Ori Lewis
August 28, 2004 15:12 IST
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Although one of the most ancient sports, wrestling is looking to its future, a leading official says.

The sport is innovating and embracing modern technology to ensure transparency and fairness, Mario Saletnig, vice president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, or FILA, told Reuters in an interview.

"We decided to use video replays to assist us in clarifying unclear situations ... we do this because it's good for our sport," Saletnig, a Canadian, said.

"Previously we used to review the protests but it was always after the fact. Team leaders could lodge an appeal but would have to pay 500 Swiss francs ($392.5) for a panel to review the bout," he said.

Saletnig said that under old rules results could be reversed overnight and it was not good to leave wrestlers, teams and the media in suspense.

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Under the new system adopted in 1998 and which is used at Olympic, world, and European championships, all decisions are made while the wrestlers are still on the mat and they are final and not open to appeal.

"(Before video was introduced) many times we declared a winner but team leaders were allowed to protest and in many instances we changed the score. It became a problem for us because the media would report that one wrestler was the victor and following a review, the score could be changed and it suddenly turned out that his opponent had won," Saletnig said.

Like in other, more widely covered sports such as cricket, American football and rugby league, an official who is not directly involved with proceedings in the arena can be called on to make a ruling but only at the request of the judges.

Competitors and their coaches cannot ask for a replay and they have to wait no more than a few seconds for a decision before the bout can continue.

"In using the video technology we don't waste any time and we don't cheat anybody, the result is final and binding before the wrestlers walk off the mat and everybody is very happy," Saletnig stated.

He explained it is simply common sense to use all available means for transparency in wrestling.

"We didn't copy any other sport, in fact, I see other sports copying us. We don't have exclusive rights to the system, we use it because it is good," he said.

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Ori Lewis
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