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Taekwondo star kicks referee in the face

  • Story Highlights
  • Cuba's Angel Matos kicks referee in the face during bronze medal match
  • Matos was furious with Sweden's Chakir Chelbat after being disqualified
  • Matos and his coach are facing life bans from taekwondo
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(CNN) -- Former Olympic champion Angel Matos of Cuba faces a life ban after kicking a referee flush in the face during his taekwondo bronze medal match in Beijing.

Matos reacted in extraordinary fashion to being disqualified by Chelbat.

Matos, who took gold in Sydney in 2000, was winning 3-2, with just over a minute left in the second round, when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan's Arman Chilmanov.

Matos lay down, awaiting medical attention, but was then disqualified by referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden for taking too much injury time.

A furious Matos reacted by pushing a judge, then pushed and kicked Chelbat in the face.

It left the Swede with blood pouring from his lip while Matos spat on the floor and was then escorted out of the arena.

"We didn't expect anything like what you have witnessed to occur," said World Taekwondo Federation secretary general Yang Jin-suk.

"I am at a loss for words," he told the Associated Press.

Matos' coach, Leudis Gonzalez, is also in hot water for his angry reaction and claiming the Kazakhs had tried to fix the match.

"This is an insult to the Olympic vision, an insult to the spirit of taekwondo and, in my opinion, an insult to mankind," Yang added.

Although the arena announcer said Matos and his coach were banned effective immediately, Yang said due process must be followed before officially banning the two.

It was not the only controversial moment in the four-day taekwondo competition, which was marred by several protests against judging decisions.

Earlier Saturday, China's double gold medalist Chen Zhong crashed out in the quarterfinals after initially being declared the winner.

She was fighting Britain's Sarah Stevenson, who scored with a clear head kick -- worth two points -- in the final seconds of their bout.

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That would have put Stevenson ahead and into the semifinals, but the judges ruled Stevenson's kick wasn't solid enough for points, and Chen was declared the winner 1-0.


After Britain protested, the result was changed to put Stevenson in the semifinal. She lost that to jeers from the partisan Chinese crowd, but later won a bronze medal match.

It was the first time a match result has been overturned since taekwondo became an official Olympic sport.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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