Usually this argument happens after the Zloty Tur events and first time I started this subject to be discussed was after 2004 Zloty Tur event that Alexey Voevoda won.
For sure that is a sensitive subject. For sure it was not 2004 Zloty Event that I first time saw people laying to stronger competitor. I have been pulling since 1993 internationally and many times my opponents laid when they knew that they had no chance against me in my prime years. I remember Rustam’s 2008 WAF win in Canada where almost everyone laid against him since they all targeted silver medal after him.
Many of the North Americans considered armwrestlers to lay against Voevoda was unfair in 2004 Zloty event and they thought Voevoda won because of this while I disagree that Alexey won because of this. Alexey was clearly the best on that day but we can discuss if it is fair or not subject. I don’t believe that some pullers laid to Alexey because they wanted to cheat but it was most likely to save the energy for a realistic target to place higher and make more Money. Even at National or even state level you can see people laying to obviously stronger opponents especially if they are training partners from same team.
For example if I would go to an event and met Pushkar in the overalls I would not pull him, not because I would want to give him favor. My main intention would not be even saving myself for the next round but to not to get injured. Why would I risqué my arm by experiencing such a powerful hit? I know enough about the sport and the things that I can possibly do and can not do.
Of course I am a much lighter guy than Pushkar and my example can not represent all the cases. I believe that actions should be judge by the intentions. Knowing that you have no chance at all against someone and saving yourself for a more realistic target is not unfairness in my book. But entering a competition just create easy rounds for someone is of course cheating. Not only at Zloty but also in Europeans and Worlds we sometimes witness two team mates to meet an done to lay to another just to serve their countries success. I have lived in US for years and I time to time witnessed the same things when two guys from same team met each other.
The examples that I gave till now were the most innocent ones but there are some other cases that happen as well. For example Tsyplenkov and Pushkar have agreed a few times to let each other win as they had pulled and killed each other and then lost against the guys whom they would normally crush. In last Zloty Event Pushkar laid to Genady in semifinal of the +105kg class and took 3. there to save himself for the overalls and he destroyed everyone in the overalls to win the biggest Money award with the biggest trophy.
The last example that I gave is open to discussion, it does not look spectator friendly but by some it can be consider as professionalism as these athletes come these events to make Money. So people who find these layings unfair and people who find them fair are right from their own point of view. One says it is cheating etc. while the other says it is strategy. I believe that it is not a black or white type of subject and I respect both opinions.