Lebanese judoka Nacif Elias' Rio Olympic journey came to an abrupt halt before his first match even ended. Elias was considered one of the Lebanese team's most serious contenders for a medal.
Elias, who was Lebanon's flag-bearer, was disqualified for an allegedly illegal joint lock on his Argentinan opponent, and left his first-ever Olympic bout in tears. And there are serious doubts about the legitimacy of the referee's decision.
"I think the decision is inadequate. The move was a regular move and I applied it in many competitions before," Elias told StepFeed .
"I was surprised by the decision of the referee and I consider it harsh."
Brazilian-raised Nacif was disqualified in a match with Emmanuel Lucenti during the preliminary round of the men's under-81 kilograms weight class. He delivered a furious rant to a television camera, saying Lucenti had tricked the judges: "I was robbed, this is not judo."
"I even trained three times a day, four times a day. I left every training session crying, because I was very compelled to win the gold medal," he told the press.
Elias returned to the arena to salute the crowd and officials. He gave a cordial statement, apologizing for his outburst and for refusing to bow or leave the competition mat. He was received with a standing ovation from his home crowd.
"I regret my reaction because it was emotional, I could not control myself as I realized my dream was over. I consider it a lesson for me and it's in the past now," he told StepFeed .
President of the Lebanese federation told LBC that Elias had previously defeated Lucenti - who beat Elias in Rio by default - twice and questioned how the Argentinian continued to compete naturally if the officials had based their verdict on a severe injury caused by the alleged joint lock.
The issue caused quite an uproar in the Lebanese community.
Everyone agreed that the ruling was unjust and inexplicable
Some proved something was not right
While others theorized about what might have triggered the referee's call
According to Al-Monitor, Elias was raised in Brazil, which he had represented until 2013.
The disappointment hit hard, especially since everyone was counting on Elias to bring home a medal
He is ranked 24th in the world in the 81-kilogram category as of July 26, while his Argentinian opponent is 31st.
So will he take any legal action?
"I have no intention to appeal the decision as this will not affect the result. I am out of competition now and this is what's important for me," he said.
He is already busy eyeing glory at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo: "My goal now is to achieve gold in Tokyo 2020 and the work has already started towards this goal."