INDIANAPOLIS -- Graciela Mendoza of Mexico won the women's 10-kilometer walk at the Pan American Games today then was disqualified for running and the gold medal awarded to Mexico's Maria Colin, whose father was one of the judges.
Mendoza crossed the finish line first at the Indiana University Track Stadium but was disqualified for lifting her heel three times during the race. She was flagged on different occasions by judges from the United States, Mexico and Argentina. The Mexican judge was Colin's father, Pablo.
The last flag was thrown by Argentinian judge Ruben Aguilera as Mendoza began her final lap, although she was not told until the final 80 meters of the race. Despite the signal, she continued across the finish line.
'They stole the medal from me and from the Mexican people also,' Mendoza said through an interpreter. 'I was walking very well. It is not right. I am very upset.'
Colin's winning time was 47:17.15 with Canada's Ann Peel second in 47:17.97. Maryanne Torrellas of Clinton, Conn., was awarded third place because of the disqualification. She finished in 47:35.12.
Mendoza passed Colin with 250 meters remaining in the race, not knowing she already had been disqualified for a third lifting violation.
Colin, wiping away tears, denied she won the race because of her father.
'That's not right. He is not the only won who can disqualify. If another judge had not given her a red card, she would not have been disqualified. The one that finally disqualified her was not from my dad,' she said through an interpreter. 'It seems she wasn't keeping her feet on the track.'
Colin said her father was reluctant to be a judge at the event because she was participating, but she said he could not refuse the invitation by Games' organizers.
'My dad doesn't like to be a referee when I am competing,' said Maria, who asked her dad not be accused of improperly disqualifying Mendoza. 'Please don't imply that about my dad. The victory is mine but these questions put a shadow on my victory.'