A criminal case has been opened against Simon Martirosyan after a pedestrian was killed in a traffic collision involving the weightlifter ©Getty Images

A criminal case has been opened by the Armenian authorities against Simon Martirosyan, one of the favourites to win a weightlifting gold medal at Tokyo 2020, after a man died in a traffic incident.

Local news reports say that Martirosyan, one of Armenia’s biggest sports heroes, collided with a pedestrian late at night in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.

The incident happened within two days of Martirosyan’s return to Armenia from the recent European Weightlifting Championships in Moscow.

Police are said to have issued a restraining order against Martirosyan, 24 - a formality to prevent him leaving the country.

The victim, who was 27, was crossing the road in a non-pedestrian area late at night when he was hit by Martirosyan’s Mercedes.

Martirosyan called an ambulance and helped to take the unconscious victim to hospital, but the man died before he got there.

A formal press statement from the authorities said, "A criminal case has been initiated in the Traffic Crimes Investigation Division of the Yerevan Investigation Department of the RA Investigation Committee under Article 242, Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code (violation of traffic safety requirements or traffic or vehicle operation rules)."

One report said that tests taken after the accident revealed no trace of alcohol or drugs in Martirosyan’s blood.

Simon Martirosyan, left, won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics ©Getty Images
Simon Martirosyan, left, won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics ©Getty Images

Anyone found guilty of causing death by negligence or dangerous driving could face up to five years in jail "if charges are pressed and he is found guilty", the report said.

Martirosyan’s lawyer, Raffi Aslanyan, told journalists, "At the moment we can only mention that there has been an accident."

In a statement on social media, Aslanyan said there had been "desperate comments" about the case and that nobody should deem Martirosyan guilty.

A thorough preliminary investigation was underway, Aslanyan said.

"Be sure Simon Martirosyan will give many moments of pride to us all."

Martirosyan suffered a surprise setback to his Olympic Games hopes in Moscow when he failed to make a total.

He is said to have been disrupted in his preparations for Moscow by a serious injury.

Martisrosyan, a multiple world and European champion who won a silver medal at 105 kilograms at Rio 2016, heads the Olympic qualifying rankings at 109kg.