Polish hammer thrower denies using gold medal to pay for taxi

Pawel Fajdek of Poland poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the hammer final Sunday.

Story highlights

  • Beijing police traced the medal to a taxi driver, who said the athlete had paid the fare with it
  • Fajdek rejected the claim; said the driver "unknowingly drove off" with it after he posed for photos

(CNN)A Polish athlete who won gold at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing has been reunited with his medal after media reports in China claimed he'd used it to pay for a taxi after a drunken celebration.

Pawel Fajdek, a hammer thrower, defended his title in the Chinese capital Sunday with a mammoth throw of 80.88 meters.
Later that evening, the 26-year old went out to a restaurant to celebrate and got a little worse for wear, the state-run Xinhua news agency, citing Chinese news site Tencent, said.
    The report described how Fajdek contacted the police from his hotel early the next morning after realizing his gong was missing.

    Tracked down

    With the help of Beijing police, the medal was eventually traced to a taxi driver, who claimed the Polish athlete was willing to pay his fare with his new prize when he took a taxi on Sunday night, Xinhua said Tuesday.
    "We tracked the taxi down after checking a large number of surveillance tapes in that area and got a hold of the driver. The driver "Mr. Li" then sent to the medal to his (Fajdek's) hotel. It only took an hour to sort the whole thing out," Zhang Bo, a local police officer, told national broadcaster CCTV.
    The Xinhua report said Polish journalists claimed they had seen Fajdek at a restaurant earlier in the evening where he had "drunk a lot in the celebration party."
    But the two-time world champion took to his Facebook page to reject the taxi fare claim. He said he'd posed for a photograph with the driver, who then "unknowingly drove off with my property." He criticized Chinese media for making up the story.