Iranian Weightlifter Banned For Life For Shaking Hands With Israeli Competitor

September 1st, 2023 9:20 AM

An Iranian weightlifter has been banned from the sport for life by his home nation.

No, Mostafa Rajaei wasn’t caught using performance enhancing drugs. He’s not caught up in some sort of domestic scandal, either.

Rajaei’s crime was simply shaking hands with an Israeli opponent.

At the World Masters Weightlifting Championships in Poland, Rajaei and Israel native Mksim Svirsky finished second and third, respectively in the clean and jerk event for competitor aged 35 or older and weighing 240 pounds. Rajai broke the previous world record of 428 pounds by lifting 430, despite dealing with pain in his elbow.

After the event, Rajaei shook hands and took a picture with Maksim Svirsky (appaling stuff, I know). 

The whole interaction lasted less than a minute, and yet it was enough to earn Rajaei a permanent ban.

The Iranian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) also fired the coach for the interaction.

“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,” the body announced in a statement

Iranians have been banned from shaking hands with Israelis since 2021, when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged athletes “not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal.”

Hopefully nothing worse happens to Rajaei after this nonsensical punishment, since Iran is known to have done some pretty horrible things to people who offend the regime.