DAEGU, South Korea (Reuters) - Cuban Dayron Robles was stripped of his gold medal pending an inquiry after barging past China’s Liu Xiang to win the 110 meters hurdles final at the world championships on Monday.
American Jason Richardson, who finished second after Liu stumbled over the final hurdle, was installed as world champion with the Chinese handed silver pending the investigation into the race, which might be re-run, according to the governing IAAF.
Robles, the 24-year-old world record holder and Olympic champion, made contact with Liu at least twice on his way to crossing the line first in 13.14 seconds.
Liu lost tripped on the last hurdle, a rarity for the 2007 world champion, and was only able to finish third in 13.27 behind Richardson, who finished in 13.16.
“Robles hit me twice, at the ninth hurdle he pulled at me but I’m sure it wasn’t intentional,” Liu told reporters.
“I lost my balance when I came to the 10th hurdle because of the bump. If not for the incident, I would been the gold medalist.”
The pair embraced after the race but the Chinese team later lodged a protest resulting in Robles being disqualified and Richardson being handed the gold. Britain’s Andy Turner was awarded bronze.
“I wish that under different circumstances he could keep the medal but rules are rules,” Richardson, 25, said.
“Anything can happen in track and field if you just do your best and stay in your name.
“I am so thankful to be the gold medalist. I truly believe I can break Robles’s world record (of 12.87 seconds).”
It was a disappointing end to the race for Liu, who was starting to return to his best form after three years of misery and injury since he limped out of the heats at the Beijing Olympics.
Robles, who has also had his fair share of injuries over the last couple of years, got away to a great start from lane five and raced to the lead over the first five hurdles.
Liu, next to him in lane six, was gaining ground all the time, though, and looked like surging past the Cuban until the contact was made, allowing Robles and Richardson to beat him to the line.
“That’s hurdling, it happens all the time, it just so happens that this time it happened to the two fastest hurdlers ever at the world championship,” said four-times world champion Allen Johnson, who described the contest as a “great, great race.”
One man whose evening no investigation could improve was American David Oliver, the fastest man this year and with Liu and Robles one of the trio of quickest high hurdlers of all time in the final.
The 29-year-old hit the second hurdle and was never in the race, slumping home in fifth, later upgraded to fourth, in 13.44.
Editing by Ed Osmond