USOC To Review Wrestling Dispute

Saturday, August 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two wrestlers embroiled in a two-month dispute will have to wait until next week before learning who will join the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

Keith Sieracki and Matt Lindland have both won rulings in the past two weeks that they thought secured them as the 167 1/2 -pound Greco-Roman wrestler on the U.S. team, only to see the decision reversed.

The case has seen more twisting and turning than the match that started it all in June. The U.S. Olympic Committee will decide next week who will be wrestling in Sydney.

``If this thing doesn't get resolved soon, there is no Sydney. So it needs to be taken care of,'' said Lindland, a former Nebraska wrestler and assistant coach who is working out with the U.S. team in Colorado Springs, Colo. ``It's an awful long time.''

Sieracki beat Lindland 2-1 on a referee's decision after overtime at the U.S. Olympic trials in Dallas. Lindland protested the match that decided the best-of-3 series, saying Sieracki tripped him, which is not allowed in Greco-Roman.

``This has been going on since I walked off the mat in Dallas,'' Lindland said. ``The match out there, it was ridiculous. I've never protested a match in my life.''

He protested this one, but was denied twice. Lindland then appealed to an arbitrator, who ruled that there should be a rematch. Lindland beat Sieracki 8-0 in the rematch Aug. 14, but Sieracki filed his own appeal, claiming he was at a disadvantage because he just returned from a tournament in Russia.

``To me, it didn't mean anything except another practice match on my way to the Olympics,'' Lindland said.

Another arbitrator said Thursday that Sieracki was the rightful entrant for the Sydney Games. But hours later, a federal appeals court in Chicago said Lindland should get the Olympic berth.

``Besides my divorce, it's the most frustrating thing I've ever been through. And my divorce was pretty frustrating,'' said Sieracki, an MP in the U.S. Army who is also continuing to train in Colorado Springs.

``I'm probably still close to weight considering I'm a worry wart. I'm going to train as if I'm going, it's only thing you can do.''

The official deadline to submit Olympic rosters was Friday, but the USOC planned to review the tangle of rulings along with the entry rules and deadlines over the weekend, USOC spokesman Mike Moran said Friday.

Sieracki said there was a rivalry between the two before it went to the courts. He doesn't hold anything against Lindland.

``He feels he's doing what's right,'' Sieracki said. ``I'm not saying he was wrong to appeal. But I've always felt you were supposed to leave it all on the mat, not in the courts.''