Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli appeared to have won gold in the shot put in the F20 class. But after the victory on Tuesday, he was disqualified because he had shown up late for the competition.
International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said Zolkefli and two others who did not reach the podium were allowed to compete under protest after they failed to appear on time for the event.
“They were late, they may have had a logical reason for being late, and therefore we allowed them to compete and look at the facts of the matter afterward,” Spence said.
A statement from World Para Athletics, which governs track and field for Para sports, said a referee had determined after the event that “there was no justifiable reason for the athletes’ failure to report” on time. It said an appeal was also turned down.
The disqualification bumped Maksym Koval of Ukraine up to gold, and Ukraine teammate Oleksandr Yarovyi took silver. Bronze went to Efstratios Nikolaidis of Greece.
Spence said the disqualification was met with anger on social media. He described it as “very abusive.” Much of it targeted the Ukrainians.
“We are now seeing comments on all our social media posts that have nothing to do with the men’s shot put F20 event,” Spence said. He said the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee “was getting a lot of abuse from Malaysians.”
Spence added: “I’m sorry. Rules are rules. The decision was taken. It wasn’t the Ukrainians’ fault that the Malaysian was late.”