INCHEON, South Korea, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Cries of foul play took over the Asian Games on Wednesday when an Indian female boxer refused to accept her medal and Malaysia lodged a formal complaint after one of its competitors failed a drugs test.
An Iraqi runner was also awarded a gold after a bizarre end to one of the key athletic events where he finished fourth but the first three finishers were all disqualified.
Multi-sports events are always filled with drama and controversy but even by the eccentric nature of the Asian Games, Wednesday’s developments were bordering on the bizarre.
The Indian boxer L Sarita Devi was left facing disciplinary action after being reported to Asian Olympic officials over her behaviour.
Sarita refused to wear the bronze medal that was presented to her on Wednesday, taking it only in her hand before trying to drape it over a South Korean opponent who had beaten her in a fight the previous day.
When the presentation was over, Sarita left the medal behind, despite being told by the organisers to take it with her.
The International Boxing Federation took a dim view of her actions, submitting a formal report to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) over her behaviour.
“The whole incident looked like a well planned scenario by her and her team, and it is regretful to watch a boxer refuse the medal regardless of what happened in the competition,” AIBA supervisor David Francis said in a statement.
“In this regard, as the Technical Delegate, I had to request OCA to review this incident, so any boxer or athlete in other sports will not follow in her footsteps by respecting the spirit of fair-play and sportsmanship of the Olympic Movement.”
Malaysia was also in the spotlight after the team’s chef de mission said the south-east Asian nation would appeal the decision to suspend its martial arts gold medal winner Tai Cheau Xuen.
The OCA announced on Tuesday that Tai had tested positive to a banned stimulant and had been expelled from the event and stripped of her medal.
But the Malaysian Olympic Committee is disputing the result and appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A decision on the appeal is expected within 48 hours.
“This involves the image of the country and the athlete involved,” Datuk Daniyal Balagopal Abdullah told the Malaysian news agency Bernama.
The OCA announced on Wednesday that a fifth athlete had tested positive. Syrian karate competitor Nour Aldin Al-Kurdi had tested positive for the banned steroid clenbuterol and had been disqualified from the Games, it said.
Iraq’s Adnan Almntfage got a lucky break when he was promoted to the gold medal for the men’s 800 metres despite finishing the final in fourth place.
Mohammed Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia crossed the line first, just ahead of Abdulrahman Musaeb Bala of Qatar and Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich of Bahrain after a frantic two-lap race.
But Almntfage was later elevated to the gold medal position after Abdulaziz was disqualified for obstruction and Bala and Rotich were disqualified for lane infractions.
“I would like to say that the Bahraini, Qatari and Saudi opponents were very worthy opponents - however they made mistakes at the 200m mark,” said Almntfage.
“And these mistakes were against the rule of the competition, I hope these mistakes won’t happen again in such a competition.”
The off-field dramas overshadowed most of Wednesday’s competition, where 33 gold medals were decided.
China won just five medals - a modest haul by its lofty standards - but still remained perched at the top of the standings with a total of 294 medals, including 131 golds.
The host-nation South Korea won another eight golds to consolidate its second place position with 62 golds, setting the stage for Thursday’s men’s soccer final against its reclusive neighbours from North Korea.
Few football fixtures are painted with as much political intrigue and the final promises to stoke passions on both sides of the world’s most heavily militarised border.
North Korea won the women’s gold medal for a third time on Wednesday, beating 2011 World Cup winners Japan 3-1.
The Koreans took a 2-0 lead on goals from Kim Yun Mi and skipper Ra Un Sim before Japan hit back through captain Aya Miyama. Substitute Ho Un Byol scored a brave diving header in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Late in the second half, however, plain-clothed security personnel swooped on a man who unfurled a North Korean flag and hung it on barriers directly behind the Japanese goal.
Security yanked the flag down and whisked the man away for questioning. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)