Russia's Olimpiada Ivanova led from the start to win the 20km walk in a new championship record.
In a race marred by several disqualifications, Ivanova finished more than a minute clear of the field in 1:27:48.
Belarussian Valentina Tsybulskaya won the silver medal in a personal best of 1:28.49 and Elisabetta Perrone of Italy took the bronze in 1:28.56.
Ivanova, the European Cup holder, served a two-year drug suspension and was disqualified after a second-place finish at the 1997 world championships in Athens.
The Russian was first out of the stadium and had the race won at the halfway mark when the last of her main rivals was disqualified.
Among them was defending champion, China's Liu Hongyu, who suffered a similar fate at the Sydney Olympics last year and Australia's Jane Saville, who was dramatically disqualified as she was about to win gold in Sydney, was stopped just before the halfway mark this time.
Of the 42 athletes in the event, 15 fell foul of the rules, including Ireland's Gillian O'Sullivan.
But Angela Keogh walked at a pace that allowed her to ensure her foot technique was by the book.
Keogh, 39, the Norfolk Island record holder, was already metres behind the pack when they left the stadium to start the street circuit.
She was lapped twice by gold medallist Ivanova but was still a crowd favourite.
Keogh beamed as she entered the stadium and finished her race as the lone athlete on the track.
Waving to the crowd she finished in 2:08.45 - more than 40 minutes behind the winner.