THE World Athletics Championships turned into farce – when one competitor punched a rival out of a race but still escaped punishment.
Top Norwegian Filip Ingerbritsen aimed a sharp straight left into the back of rival Teddese Lemi as they jostled for position on the final lap of their 1500m heat.
Ethiopian star Lemi then tumbled to the ground as his competitor – one of a famous trio of runners in the athletics world – chopped back inside him.
It left the 20-year-old Lemi sprawling on the track with his hopes of glory over through no fault of his own – while Ingerbritsen went on to qualify for today’s semi final.
And despite race stewards looking into the clash they decided the 26-year-old, whose brother Jakob is one of the golden boys of the sport, should not be punished.
The ruling left BBC commentator Steve Cram stunned in the studio, after he reviewed replays of the clash.
Cram said: “That’s a punch. That is a punch.
“If the track referee hasn’t seen that, we’ve seen that, I’m amazed.
“This is nothing against Flip, that could be anybody, I am amazed he hasn’t been disqualified thus far.”
BBC presenter Gabby Logan went on: “We see Ingerbritsen working his way to what he considered obviously to be a better position for him on the track, in doing so absolutely felling Lemi.
“In the close up you can see it looks as though he has punched his back. His left hand kind of goes into the middle of his back.”
Expert analyst Michael Johnson claimed it was not just the contact in the back which was an issue, but also the way Ingerbritsen chop inside and tripped Lemi.
More from Athletics
Johnson said: “Steve pointed this out, it’s not so much the push in the back it’s trying to cross over.
“He’s immediately, after that jostling, Filip tries to cross over into the inside and crosses right behind Lemi and cuts him off and clips the back of his foot.”
The race referee decided against disqualifying medal hope Ingerbritsen – and also opted not to reinstate Lemi and advance him into today’s semi-finals.