Cuban athlete banned after kicking ref

August 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Cuban taekwondo athlete and his coach were banned for life after Angel Matos kicked the referee in the face following his bronze-medal match disqualification.Cuban coach Leudis Gonzalez offered no apology for Matos' actions during the men's over-80 kg (176 pounds) match.

Matos was winning 3-2, with 1:02 in the second round, when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov. He was sitting there, awaiting medical attention, when he was disqualified for taking too much injury time. Fighters get one minute, and Matos was disqualified when his time ran out.

Matos angrily questioned the call, pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos then spat on the floor and was escorted out.

"He was too strict," Gonzalez said, referring to the decision to disqualify Matos. Afterward, he charged the match was fixed, accusing the Kazakhs of offering him money.

"This is a strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games. The sanctions are the following and are effective immediately: Lifetime ban of the coach and athlete in all championships sanctioned by the (World Taekwondo Federation) and at the same time, all records of this athlete at the Beijing Games will immediately be erased," said the announcer, reading a WTF release.

In his first match, Matos defeated Italy's Leonardo Basile, then beat China's Liu Xiaobo 2-1 in the quarterfinals. But he lost to South Korean Cha Dong-min in the semis to land in the bronze-medal match.

"To me it was obvious he was unable to continue," Chilmanov said. "His toe on his left foot was broken."

Matos won the gold medal in this division at the 2000 Sydney Games, dedicating the victory to his mother, who died on the day of the opening ceremony. At the 2004 Athens Games, he finished 11th.

Matos' tantrum followed a day of confusion on the mats.

Earlier Saturday, China's double gold medalist Chen Zhong crashed out in the quarterfinals after initially being declared the winner. It was the first time a match result had been overturned since taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 1990.


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