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Burnell calls refereeing 'a joke' after Rio marathon swim disqualification

Team GB marathon swimmer Jack Burnell branded the refereeing of the men's 10km open water swim at the Rio Olympics "an absolute joke" after being disqualified from the event.

A chaotic finish saw Greece's Spiros Gianniotis initially claim victory, but his medal was later downgraded to silver meaning Dutchman Ferry Weertman took the gold.

Burnell's third-place finish was then switched to fifth before his position was eventually discounted by the referees. The 25-year-old -- who was hopeful of gold having won silver at the European Championships -- said he plans to appeal the decision.

"This is the pinnacle of our sport, the Olympic Games," Burnell told the BBC. "It's supposed to be the grandest stage of them all, with everything perfect, you've got all this great scenery and stuff, and the one thing that ruins it is the referees.

"There's 600 and however many boats out there [which are] not needed and every single person on the boat has no idea what they're doing. They're giving yellow cards out for absolutely nothing when there's people grabbing hold of legs and everything. The whole thing was an absolute joke.

"In the end, apparently I was disqualified two metres from the finish."

Breakaway swimmer Jarrod Poort, of Australia, had been caught by the chasing pack, which included Burnell, heading towards the finish.

Weertman was first to touch the finishing board, despite Giannotis appearing to cross it first. Marc-Antoine Olivier of France and China's Zu Lijun ended up in a tie for bronze.

"The first yellow card I got was coming down the straight back here, I was second, behind the guy in front," Burnell added. "There was nobody either side of me and the guy pulls out a yellow card. I couldn't have physically touched anybody either side of me and I get a yellow card, now you explain that to me.

"We're all coming in a line, all the best guys in the water. I feel a hand on the back of my leg which stops me dead, I take a couple of strokes and he's still on my foot.

"The yellow card is meant for unnecessary contact, there was nobody around me. I shook my head at the guy. What do you want me to do? This is meant to be the pinnacle of our sport and you've got referees out there that haven't got a clue what they're doing.

"The judges have ruined this. We're going to put an appeal in but it'll do absolutely nothing. It's ridiculous."