The BBC said it regretted broadcasting news footage from the Olympics in the wrong order.
Live coverage of Chinese hopeful Liu Xiang was distorted in error on the Ten O’Clock News.
The BBC said it regretted broadcasting the misleading footage, after Armando Iannucci, the writer whose credits include BBC political satire The Thick of It, brought the incident to light at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Sunday.
The original footage showed the athlete, who has been dubbed the David Beckham of China, kicking a mat in frustration before going on to the track and realising he could not go on.
To the dismay of three billion Chinese, he pulled out of the men’s 110 metres hurdles and fled the track because of an Achilles tendon problem.
On last Monday night’s news bulletin, it was made to look as though China’s only male Olympic champion was kicking the mat in frustration at pulling-out.
Iannucci told the festival: “A man kicking a mat in frustration on his way into a stadium before a race is quietly re-edited to make it look like he’s kicking it on the way out after the race.
“The laws of time are bent, millions of pounds spent on editorial bootcamps and Truth and Values waterboarding sessions are rendered unto dust, and once again …. British television industry comes crashing to its knees.”
A BBC spokesman said the footage was a mistake and went on: “In relation to footage shown at the Edinburgh Television Festival’s Alternative MacTaggart Lecture today, in a news package of the events surrounding Liu Xiang’s Olympic 110m hurdle heats and his subsequent withdrawal from the event due to injury a sequence of editing was mistakenly broadcast in the wrong order on some BBC news bulletins.
“After the event, pictures showing the athlete’s intense frustration were sent to the news desk without time coding and were mistakenly edited into the report.
“While this did not alter the editorial direction of our reports, we regret that these pictures were not shown in chronological order. In the sports coverage of the event shots were shown in the correct order.”
The BBC apologised to the Queen last year for showing footage that wrongly implied she walked out of a portrait session during a documentary.
BBC staff also faked the results of a poll to name a kitten on Blue Peter.