Bulgarian wrestler goes missing, coach to replace him in Rio 2016 Olympics

  • Reuters, Sofia
  • Updated: Jul 19, 2016 17:01 IST

Bulgarian junior national team coach will replace freestyle wrestler Lyuben Iliev at next month’s Rio Olympics after the 27-year-old went missing.

“He (Iliev) just sank out of sight, we can’t reach him,” Bulgarian freestyle wrestling team coach Valentin Raychev told local media on Tuesday. “We’ll rely on (junior team coach) Dimitar Kumchev at the Olympics.”

Raychev described Iliev -- originally scheduled to compete in the 125-kg category in Rio -- as “emotionally unstable” and said the wrestler went missing on July 4 when the national team returned to Bulgaria following a training camp in Russia.

Iliev, who won the bronze medal at the 2013 European championship in Tbilisi, Georgia in the 96-kg category, qualified for the Rio Games after Belarus’ Yusup Jalilau tested positive for doping during the European Olympic Qualifier in May.

In 2012, Iliev was detained and spent five days in custody following a scuffle with police officers in the southwestern town of Blagoevgrad.

Bulgarian wrestlers have won 16 Olympic titles, making wrestling the most successful sport in the Balkan country.

Eleven Bulgarian wrestlers, including three women, will compete at Rio 2016.

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