IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the Olympic program, a decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.

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IOC board removes wrestling

from its list of 25 ‘core sports’

IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the Olympic program on Tuesday, a surprising decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.

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The International Olympic Committee executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon — the event perceived to be most at risk by many observers — and remove wrestling from its list of 25 “core sports.”

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the existing Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the IOC to add a new sport to the program later this year.

Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, was part of the ancient Olympics in 708 B.C., according to The New York Times.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the decision was made by secret ballot over several rounds, with members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group. IOC President Jacques Rogge did not vote.

Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press.

Wrestling will join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined baseball-softball bid, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Veteran Games observers contend it is highly unlikely wrestling would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the IOC executive board.

American Rulon Gardner, a Greco-Roman gold medalist in 2000, said of wrestling’s removal: “I don’t think anybody thought this would happen. It’s a shame. This is one of the original sports. It has been around for thousands of years. The Olympic movement has gone astray.”

College football

4 Alabama players face charges

Three Alabama players have been charged with knocking students unconscious and stealing their wallets, and a fourth player has been charged with using a stolen debit card.

All four have been suspended for an indefinite period by coach Nick Saban. The four were not starters for the Crimson Tide team that won its second consecutive national title last season.

Linebacker Tyler Hayes, 18, and safety Eddie Williams, 20, confessed to robbing a student who was punched in the head and face and kicked in the ribs and back early Monday morning, according to court documents. Williams said D.J. Pettway, 20, a defensive lineman, and Hayes waited in a nearby vehicle about an hour later while he knocked out and robbed another student.

Williams and Hayes both admitted to their involvement, according to the documents.

Williams and running back Brent Calloway, 20, both admitted to using a stolen credit card to buy snacks from vending machines inside a dormitory, the documents said.

Pettway and Hayes were charged with second-degree robbery. Williams was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and second-degree robbery. Calloway was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card. Williams was released on $65,000 bond, while Hayes and Pettway were released on $60,000 bond each. Calloway was released on $5,000 bond.

“This behavior is unacceptable for any student-athlete at the University of Alabama and not representative of our football program,” Saban said in a news release.


Snedeker withdraws from event

American Brandt Snedeker withdrew from next week’s 64-player Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., because of sore ribs that have been causing him discomfort.

Snedeker, ranked No. 4 in the world, won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday.

Phil Mickelson, ranked 10th, previously said he won’t compete because his kids are on a school holiday and the family has vacation plans.


Champions League resumes

Ezequiel Lavezzi scored in the 10th minute and Javier Pastore connected in the 43rd, giving Paris Saint-Germain a 2-1 victory at Valencia of Spain as the UEFA Champions League’s second round started.

Juventus of Italy won 3-0 at Glasgow Celtic of Scotland in another round-of-16 match.

PSG and Juventus will be at home for next month’s second legs of their home-and-home, total-goals series.


• The Winter X Games will cancel a snowmobile freestyle demonstration at the stop in Tignes, France, next month as organizers review safety protocols in the wake of Caleb Moore‘s death.

Moore died Jan. 31 from injuries he suffered when his 450-pound snowmobile rolled over him after a back flip gone wrong in Aspen, Colo.

In a statement released Tuesday, X Games officials said, “Our review of snowmobile freestyle continues, and in the meantime we have decided to forgo the planned demonstration freestyle event at X Games Tignes.”

• Spaniard Rafael Nadal, 26, criticized the ATP for not doing enough to protect tennis players’ health, saying the increase in hardcourt events will lead to long-term injuries that will affect players after they retire.

“The ATP worries too little about the players,” said 11-time major winner Nadal, who is in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to play his second tournament after a seven-month layoff that resulted from a left-knee injury and a stomach virus.

• The Big East reportedly is closing in on a six-year deal with NBC Sports Network for football and basketball rights that will pay the conference about $20 million per year.

Seattle Times news services