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Oklahoma State's John Smith part of USA-led group trying to save Olympic wrestling

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013

Bender, who leaves Monday for Iran, said he intends to meet with leaders from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Belarus.

"We must form a coalition. We must. The wrestling nations must work together on this," Bender said. "It's critical that we are all on the same page. And directing the energies of the wrestling communities and their countries to one common cause, and that's obviously to convince the International Olympic Committee that wrestling belongs on the program."

Bender said the Russian, Iranian and Japanese wrestling federations have also begun their own plans to fight the IOC's decision, adding that he spoke about strategy with Russian and Japanese officials over the phone on Thursday.

Bender said an international summit could also be on the table, though more solid plans will likely be formed in the coming weeks.

Though Bender knows that sports that are removed from the Olympic program don't usually earn immediate re-inclusion, he sees wrestling as a unique case.

"This might be taken the wrong way. But historically, sports like wrestling haven't been challenged like this," Bender said. "The reality of it is that our sport belongs in the program. Our sport has one of the biggest histories and traditions within the Olympic movement."


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