RIO DE JANEIRO – The International Weightlifting Federation website was hacked on Wednesday and its Instagram page flooded with over 285,000 comments after Iran’s star lifter Behdad Salimikordasiabi controversially crashed out of the Rio Games.
Having broken a world record in a previous round, the 26-year-old super heavyweight was disqualified when Olympic officials ruled that he had failed to register a total in the clean and jerk, leading to angry protests by his coach and fans that led to riot police being called to the arena in Rio.
The IWF website was unavailable after it was hacked by someone using the moniker “Master of Pain”, who plastered the homepage with the Iranian lifter’s name and photograph.
“Keep your head up Behdad!,” a message said. “God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldier.”
Tens of thousands of Iranians also poured on to the federation’s Instagram page in the hours after the jury’s decision.
“Behdad is winner in our hearts. God damn the Olympics,” wrote one angry user, @hadisdr1375.
“Hope one day sport world become more fair and closer to the humanity,” said @nader_beglary.
State television slammed the decision as “unfair” and a video of the “Iranian Hercules” crying went viral.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is not blocked by authorities in the Islamic republic and has become hugely popular among the country’s young, well-connected population.
Salimikordasiabi set a new world record of 216 kg in the snatch, and was leading Georgian lifter Lasha Talakhadze by 1kg as they went into the clean and jerk.
But the judges ruled that Salimikordasiabi’s first jerk was a no lift. The jury then dramatically overruled the judges’ decision that his second lift was legitimate.
“There’s a conspiracy. Our enemies were on the jury,” irate Iranian coach Sajjad Anoushiravani told reporters.
“He is a gold medalist from London. He broke the world record here. They may as well throw the whole thing in the trash.”