"I think I could have set an Olympic record if I was not stopped," a downbeat Ukhov said.
"When photographers started trespassing on the track I decided it was not worth it to try."
The 26-year-old, not displaying the normal joy of an Olympic gold medal winner, jumped 2.38 metres on a wet and cold night in east London to finish ahead of America's Erik Kynard who took silver with 2.33.
Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, Canada's Derek Drouin and Britain's European champion Robbie Grabarz each won a bronze medal after being tied in third on 2.29.
Ukhov even survived losing his competition vest on the way to victory, revealing a heavily strapped up back before hastily pinning a number to his compatriot Andrey Silnov's top.
"My friends are also surprised because they told me that they haven't taken my shirt," the twice European and former world indoor champion said.
Ukhov, who had a "strong warning" from the International Amateur Athletics Federation for being drunk during a competition in 2008 - footage that soon became a hit on the internet - has the year's highest jump at 2.39.
In the London rain he had one failed attempt at 2.40 to try to better American Charles Austin's 1996 Olympic record of 2.39, before the presence of photographers eager to get snapping prompted him to take off his shoes and start the celebrations.
"The T-shirt distracted me, and the medal ceremony, and the camera so I decided to stop. I could have jumped even higher at 2.40m," he said, referring to the women's pole vault ceremony.
Ukhov had also shrugged his shoulders at having to delay his Olympic record attempt for a women's 200m semi-final heat.
Russia's 2008 Olympic champion Silnov and US world champion Jesse Williams went out early after both failed to go above 2.25 despite season's bests of 2.37 and 2.36 respectively.
For Williams, who took the world title at last year's championships in South Korea, the pain of his exit was clear to see as he lay still on the floor with his head in his hands.
"I couldn't believe it and I still can't, it hurts. My first couple of jumps were good. I've got a lot to think about," the American said.
A bronze for Grabarz was Britain's 48th medal of the Games, matching the host nation's minimum target set by UK Sport.
"That I've got a bronze medal is incredible. I've come from nowhere. Who is this kid with a medal round his neck? I knew I had the talent to achieve it but to make it true is incredible, it hasn't sunk in," the 24-year-old said.
On being one of three bronze medallists he added: "It's going to be tight for space up there (on the podium)."
"As long as we get one each and we don't have to split one between the three, we'll be alright."