Cuban athlete banned for life after attack on referee during Olympics

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cuban Taekwondo athlete Ángel Matos was banned for life yesterday after an assault on Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat during the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Matos was competing in the bronze medal match against Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan when he sustained an injury. As he lay on the mat with medical attendants, Matos was disqualified for exceeding the one minute injury time limit. When Chilmanov was declared the winner of the bout, Matos delivered a kick to the face of Chelbat. Touch judges rushed in to try to control the situation. Matos pushed one of them and then spat on the floor. Both Matos and his coach Leudis Gonzalez were banned for life from all official Taekwondo events for their behavior in the incident.

The World Taekwondo Federation released a statement referring to the incident as a "strong violation of the spirit of Taekwondo and the Olympic Games". They also called for all records of Matos to be removed from the Olympic records. Later coach Leudis Gonzalez claimed the Kazaks offered him money to lose the bout. WTF secretary general Yang Jin-suk said "due process must be followed before officially banning the two."

Matos won the gold medal in Sydney in 2000; he finished in 11th place in Athens four years later.