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Cuban athlete kicks taekwondo ref in face

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Cuba's Angel Valodia Matos kicked a referee in the face after he was disqualified from his taekwondo bronze medal match in the over-80 kilogram weight class on Saturday night.

Matos, beating Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan 3-2 near the end of the match, was disqualified for taking more than the allotted one minute of injury time when he went to the mat with what his opponent said was a broken toe.

Livid with the decision, Matos and his coach argued with referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. As Chelbat awarded the win to Chilmanov, Matos exploded with a left roundhouse kick to the referee's face.

Chelbat walked off and approached officials. Matos and his coach also tried to approach, but were escorted out to boos from the crowd.

Later, the sport's governing body recommended Matos' disqualification from fifth place and a lifetime ban from future events.

"We gave a recommendation. This does not mean it will be a final decision," said World Taekwondo Federation secretary general Yang Jin Suk of the United States.

Yang said the International Olympic Committee would make the final decision on Matos' status. He said Chelbat was "badly harmed" by the kick and needed stitches in his lip.

"The WTF will look into it as to what legal actions can be taken," said Yang. "It is a most unfortunate situation. It is an insult to Olympism, and insult to the spirit of taekwondo and an insult to mankind.

"On behalf of taekwondo, I express my regrets."

Matos was the 2000 gold medalist in the under-80 kg weight class at the Sydney Olympics. Chilmanov believed the Cuban fighter would not have been able to continue the match even if he hadn't been disqualified.

"To me it was obvious he was unable to continue," said Chilmanov.

Chilmanov, who called Matos' behavior "unsportsmanlike," shared the bronze medal with the winner of the other third-place bout, Nigeria's Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije.

Korea's Cha Dongmin and Mexico's Maria del Rosario Espinoza claimed the last gold medals awarded in taekwondo by winning the men's and women's heavyweight divisions.

Cha defeated 2004 silver medalist Alexandros Nikolaidis of Greece in the gold medal match of the men's over-80 kilogram weight class, scoring three points in the first round on the way to a 5-4 win.

Nikolaidis settled for his second straight silver medal.

Espinoza beat Nina Solheim of Norway to win the women's over-67 kg division, rallying for three points in the third and final round to claim a 4-1 victory.

Brazil's Natalia Falavigna and Sarah Stevenson of Great Britain won bronze medals. Stevenson won an appeal to win her quarterfinal match against China's Chen Zhong.

08/23 11:53:38 ET