Mehrdad Karam Zadeh won silver in the F42-class discus at the London 2012 Paralympic Games yesterday morning.

But when the Duchess of Cambridge presented Zadeh with his medal yesterday evening, the Iranian would not shake her hand.

Both the bronze medallist, Lezheng Wang, and gold medallist, Aled Davies, did shake Kate Middleton’s hand when she presented them with their medals.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Iranian delegation has told Games organisers Zadeh did not shake the Duchess’s hand because of cultural conventions in Iran, which prevent a man from shaking the hand of a woman he is not related or married to.

It is understood that, had a male been presenting the medal, Zadeh would have shaken his hand.

By that same token, if the Duchess had been presenting a medal to a female Iranian athlete, the athlete would have shaken her hand.

However, if a male had been presenting a medal to a female Iranian athlete, the athlete would not have shaken his hand.

A spokesman for St James’s Palace told the Telegraph that Middleton had been aware she would not be shaking Zadeh’s hand.

“Many male athletes from Islamic countries do not shake hands in public with women they are not related to for cultural and religious reasons,” the spokesman said.

“The Duchess was informed in advance and was happy to accept his wishes. She considered it an honour to present the medals.” 

The explanation puts paid to speculation that the non-shake was politically motivated.

The UK withdrew its diplomats from Tehran in 2011 following ongoing tensions with Iran.

Image: Getty