Israeli judoka Soso Palelashvili was arrested Friday on suspicion of stealing toothpaste from a grocery store in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Israeli judo officials immediately decided to ban Palelashvili from competing in the Dusseldorf Judo Grand Prix, putting a serious dent in his hopes of reaching the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Palelashvili was freed on bail. Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponti advised the Israeli delegation to send the judoka back to Israel, where he will face a disciplinary hearing.
Rani Yadgar, Palelashvili's personal coach, opposed the decision: "Oren Smadja and Ponti are playing politics. What did they achieve with that decision? They just wasted a three-year investment. He is a troublemaker, but precisely for that reason he needs a more personal touch. Soso has a family and he barely earns NIS 2,500 a month. He might have done it, but only because he doesn't have any money. I believe in him, but they've killed him now."
Palelashvili immigrated to Israel from Georgia four years ago, and was in excellent form last year. However, he was also involved in several incidents, among them attacking another Israeli judoka during training.
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