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Cuban taekwondo athlete could face lifetime ban

 Match referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden walks off the mat after he was kicked in the face by Cuba's Angel Valodia Matos at the end of a bronze medal m...
 Cuba's Angel Valodia Matos, left, kicks match referee Sweden's Chakir Chelbat in the face during a bronze medal match against Kazakhstan's Arman Chil...

Beijing Olympics Athletics Mens 5000M

Match referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden walks off the mat after he was kicked in the face by Cuba's Angel Valodia Matos at the end of a bronze medal m...

Beijing Olympics Taekwondo Mens 80Kg

Cuba's Angel Valodia Matos, left, kicks match referee Sweden's Chakir Chelbat in the face during a bronze medal match against Kazakhstan's Arman Chil...

The World Taekwondo Federation has recommended that Cuba's Angel Matos and his coach be banned for life after the athlete kicked a referee in the face following his bronze-medal match disqualification.
"I am at a loss for words," said WTF Secretary-General Yang Jin-suk. "We didn't expect anything like what you have witnessed to occur."
Matos was winning 3-2 in his men's over-80 kg (176 pounds) match. There was 1:02 left in the second round, when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov. He was sitting, awaiting medical attention, when he was disqualified for taking too much injury time. Fighters get one minute, and Matos exceeded the allowed time.
Matos angrily questioned the call. He rose to his feet and pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos spat on the floor and was escorted out.
Chelbat will require stitches in his lip, Yang said.
Matos' coach was unapologetic.
"He was too strict," coach Leudis Gonzalez said, referring to the decision to disqualify Matos. Afterward, he charged the match was fixed, accusing the Kazakhs of offering him money.
The announcer, reading a WTF release, said: "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."
Yang said the WTF held an executive meeting immediately after the incident and decided on the sanctions. He later said due process must be followed before the actions are formally implemented, however.
"This is an insult to the Olympic vision, an insult to the spirit of taekwondo and, in my opinion, an insult to mankind," Yang said.
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."
But Chilmanov added, "Rules are rules. I'm happy with my medal."
Matos won the gold medal in this division _ the men's over 80-kilograms _ 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 and ended the four-day taekwondo competition, which had been marred by several protests against judge's calls, on a bitter note.
Earlier Saturday, China's double gold medalist Chen Zhong crashed out in the quarterfinals after initially being declared the winner.
World champion Maria del Rosario Espinoza, the eventual winner in the women's over 67-kilogram class, was to fight Chen in the semifinals but the judges overturned an earlier ruling and made Britain's Sarah Stevenson the winner of the quarterfinal bout in which Chen scored in the closing seconds of the second round and then Stevenson tagged her with a head kick _ worth two points _ in the third.
The judges ruled Stevenson's kick wasn't solid enough for points, and Chen was declared the winner 1-0. After Britain protested, and the result was changed to put Stevenson in the semifinal.
The decision brought loud jeers from the crowd. China did not appeal.
It was the first time a match result has been overturned since taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 1990.
"It's been a really tough day, an emotional rollercoaster," Stevenson said. "I would have been devastated if they hadn't changed the decision."
Stevenson won bronze, along with Brazil's Natalia Falavigna.
Cha of South Korea made it four-for-four gold medals for South Korea. In taekwondo, countries are allowed to enter only four athletes.
Cha fell behind when Alexandros Nikolaidis of Greece nailed him with a head kick 15 seconds into the bout. But he came back with a body kick and a head shot of his own to take back the lead, adding another point to go 4-3 going into the third round.
Nikolaidis evened it out at 4-4 with a body kick, but Cha scored with just 18 seconds left to claim the gold in the men's over-80 kg (176 pounds) division.
Nikolaidis said he felt the judging was bad in the gold-medal match as well.
"I don't think in press conferences we should discuss referees and things," he said. "But I think I deserved a couple of things that didn't come to me."
Daba Modibo Keita of Mali, the 2007 world champion, was defeated in overtime in the quarterfinals by Nigeria's Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije, who ended up with the other bronze.


Updated : 2021-05-18 12:30 GMT+08:00