Asian Games: Appeal drama as Jebet restored to gold

Asian Games: Appeal drama as Jebet restored to gold

INCHEON, South Korea - Bahrain's Ruth Jebet was dramatically restored to Asian Games steeplechase gold on Sunday as officials reversed her disqualification for stepping inside the track, following furious protests from her team.

The 17-year-old world junior champion took 24 seconds off the Asiad record as she romped home in first Saturday night, only to be stripped of victory as she was about to mount the podium to receive her medal.

Kenya-born Jebet was led away in tears as irate team managers fought the ruling, prompting late-night wrangling between Asian Athletics Association (AAA) officials and delegates from Bahrain, China and India.

On Sunday, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director Haidar Farman told AFP a review had found Jebet had not broken the rules and her disqualification stood rescinded.

Jebet stumbled and put a foot in the infield as she entered the home straight on her penultimate lap while well clear of the rest of the runners. But an athletics official said the review ruled the slip had not hindered anyone else or affected the outcome of the race.

As the controversy raged, the second day of athletics was underway with China's Olympic bronze medallist Wang Zhen breaking the Asian Games record on his way to gold in the men's 20km race walk.

Japan's Yusuke Suzuki, who posted the fastest time this year back in February, faded towards the end and could only manage second behind Wang's time of 1hr 19min 45sec.

Lu Xiuzhi won the women's 20km walk with Kaur Khushbir of India second.

On the track, Qatar's 5,000 metre gold medallist Mohamad Al-Garni set up a 1,500 final clash against fellow Moroccan-born runners Hamza Driouch of Qatar and Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain.

Al-Garni said he was confident of picking up a second gold in his specialist event, after coasting to finish second behind Ramzi in his heat in 3:52.92.

"I was taking it very easy, basically jogging," Al-Garni told AFP. "I think I can win tomorrow. I just need to be smart." Ramzi was stripped of the gold he won at the 2008 Olympics after testing positive for banned blood booster EPO-CERA. He also served a two-year ban.

Later on Saturday, China's Zhang Peimeng will seek to become the first Asian-born athlete to run 100 metres in less than 10 seconds in the showpiece men's sprint final.

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