MEXICO CITY - The bull charged and matador Christian Hernandez took off - across the ring, over the wall and into controversy.

The admittedly terrified torero was arrested after Sunday's botched bullfight at the Plaza Mexico, apparently for breach of contract, local media reported yesterday. He was released after paying a fine.

"There are some things you must be aware of about yourself," the Mexican matador said in a television interview. "I didn't have the ability, I didn't have the balls, this is not my thing."

In a sight rarely seen in the bravado world of bullfighting, Hernandez, 22, made a spin with his red cape at the charging bull, then ran across the ring and leapt headlong over the wall to safety, dropping his cape in the process. The crowd hooted in derision.

Several months ago, another bull gored Hernandez in the leg.

Officials did briefly convince Hernandez to return to the ring Sunday, where he put his hands over his head and pointed upward before he made a second exit, shaking his head.

He later said he would retire from bullfighting.