Iranian Masters Weightlifter Banned for Life for Shaking Israeli Opponent’s Hand

While this type of overreaction may seem archaic within any civilized, democratic society, Iran has banned one of its champion weightlifters for life after he was photographed shaking hands with an Israeli competitor at the recent World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Poland.

Mostafa Rajaei of Iran placed second in the competition with a world record for the clean-and-jerk with a lift of 430 lbs., beating the previous record by 2 lbs.  After the competition was completed and the Masters Athletes gathered to share the podium, Rajaei had the audacity to shake hands with third-place finisher Maksim Svirsky from Israel.

Iran does not recognize Israel as a sovereign, independent nation and as a result, all contact between Iranian and Israeli athletes is strictly forbidden.

Rajaei’s unforgiveable act of showing good sportsmanship has earned him a lifetime ban by Iran’s Weightlifting Federation.  And it also cost weightlifting coach Hamid Salehinia his job and the committee for Iranian Masters Weightlifters has been dissolved.

A statement from the Iranian government read: “The weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia.

This is not the first time the Iranian government has pressured its athletes to not interact with Israeli competitors.  The International Judo Federation suspended Iran in 2021 from competing for four years after it was revealed that Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered to withdraw from the 2019 World Judo Championships to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.