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A Chicago attorney went to the mat Wednesday in asking an arbitrator to reverse the results of a match that denied his disconsolate client a spot on the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling team going to Sydney, Australia in September. Steve Thompson said he expects a decision by Thursday from the arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. But, he conceded Wednesday that the decision will likely turn on whether an opponent’s allegedly illegal leg move on Matt Lindland during a qualifying match in June was a garden-variety judgment call to be made by officials — or a reversible misapplication of national rules. Lindland, reigning national champion Greco-Roman wrestler in his weight class, and an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, insists that U.S. Army team wrestler Keith Sieracki had used his legs at one point in the disputed match both offensively and defensively — and the referee, knowing this, should have done something about it. “The rules violation we allege, the illegal use of legs, could not be more clear on the videotape and to everyone who’s seen it,” said Thompson, a partner in the Chicago office of Dallas’ Jenkens & Gilchrist. So far, however, the position of USA Wrestling, the governing body of amateur wrestling, has been that it was a mere judgment call on behalf of the official handling the match, Thompson said. As a result, he noted, the oversight group has refused to reverse the result, let alone order a rematch. Chris Cipoletti, an attorney with James & Cipoletti in Colorado Springs, who represented USA Wrestling, was not available for comment. In the arbitration complaint filed against USA Wrestling, Lindland pointedly alleges a violation of his due process rights because members of the body’s Greco-Roman Wrestling Committee did not review a revealing videotape in the hearing in which it upheld the disputed match result. During the hearing held last month via conference call before that committee, evidence was presented only through testimony of people who viewed the match, Thompson said. “Imagine trying to give a narrative of a wrestling match,” Thompson said. “It’s crazy, especially when you have better evidence in the videotape.” Also part of the complaint is that the full nine-member committee did not hear Lindland’s complaint. Four members of the committee were excluded because of conflicts of interest, although USA Wrestling never explained what the conflict was, Thompson said. Besides ordering a rematch, the arbitrator has the power to simply uphold the committee’s contested ruling or send the case back to the committee to hear more evidence, such as Thompson’s recommended videotape. In any case, the matter must be decided by Aug. 25, as no relief may be granted within 21 days of the start of the Olympic games.

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