Terry Brands: Wrestling Should Blame Itself

By Mike Hlas, Reporter

Iowa wrestling legend Dan Gable (left) shows off a "Let's Keep Wrestling" t-shirt as he stands with Iowa associate wrestling coach Terry Brands (center) and Northern Iowa wrestling coach Doug Schwab before the class 3A semifinal matches at 2013 Iowa High School Athletic Association's state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Two weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee surprisingly announced wrestling was being dropped from the 2020 Summer Games.

A torrent of criticism has come the IOC's way from wrestling and non-wrestling people. But Iowa assistant wrestling coach Terry Brands, a two-time gold-medalist at the World Championships and someone who has coached at the international level, says wrestling can blame wrestling.

In this very interesting interview on KCJJ-AM in Iowa City Tuesday (I encourage you to watch it here), Brands said his sport was warned that it needed to change the way it dealt with the IOC. He said FILA, wrestling's international governing body was "arrogant" and "not reachable."

"If the IOC talks, you listen," Brands said. "You open your ears and you follow the protocol. Whether you think it's right or wrong, you have got to do that job. It's not sucking up to them, it's not playing the game. It's doing your doggone job."

Brands said this about Rich Bender, the executive director of USA Wrestling:

"This is something that's beyond him. I don't say that to attack him. I'm friends with him. But if we want to do the right thing there has to be a leadership change domestically, and that's the bad news. There hasn't been. He's hanging on, he's going through the motions, kind of doing what they tell him to do. And there needs to be a change.

"When this cools off and we get back into the 2020 Games (Brands insists he thinks wrestling will persuade the IOC to re-admit it into the Olympics when the IOC votes in September on adding a sport), then we need a change of leadership or we'll be right back where we are in 2028 or 2032."

Brands said, "We got warning shots across our noses, pretty specific mandates that needed to happen, and I don't know that I was shocked (by the IOC's decision). I'm angry. I'm angry at the domestic leadership and I'm angry at the international leadership."

It's not that Brands was ranting and raving. Watch the interview. He's matter-of-fact, and what I consider articulate. Credit to KCJJ for inviting Brands on their station and giving him time to have a lengthy conversation about this.

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