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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
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ATHLETICS

French athlete loses gold medal for removing his shirt before crossing the finish line

Mahiedine Mehkissi-Benabbad stripped off his vest in celebration before crossing finish line at European Championships

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 11:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 4:58pm

France’s Mahiedine Mehkissi-Benabbad was stripped of his gold medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European athletics championships on Thursday after peeling off his running vest before he crossed the line.

Entering the home straight with a hat-trick of titles already in the bag, he removed his French singlet, put it between his teeth and implored the crowd to acclaim him as he ran bare-chested down the home straight to complete a convincing victory in 8min 25.30sec.

But the 29-year-old appeared to contravene rule 143.8 of the International Association of Athletics Federations, stipulating that “bibs may not be obscured in any way.”

The two-time World Championship bronze medallist initially received a yellow card warning but a protest was lodged by the Spanish team and upheld, prompting a counter protest by the French that was rejected.

Yoann Kowal, Mehkissi-Benabbad’s French team-mate, was upgraded from silver to gold, with Krystian Zalewski of Poland promoted to second and Spain’s Angel Mullera to third.

“I would like to get justice for the winner’s behaviour,” said Mullera.

Mekhissi-Benabbad said: “When I took off my vest it was because of my joy of course. It was the pleasure of winning. I was so happy to defend my title. I did not know I was going to get a yellow card for that.”

The Frenchman has a reputation as the bad boy track and field, having pushed mascots after winning the European steeplechase final in Barcelona in 2010 and in Helsinki in 2012.

He was also given a suspended sentence by the French athletics federation, fined 1,500 euros and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service after getting into a fist fight with fellow Frenchman Mehdi Baala after a Diamond League 1500m race in Monaco in 2011.

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This article is now closed to comments

ohyeahar
Seems to me this deserves a fine and/or suspension, at most. It’s not like he cheated to win. By stripping him of his medal, we’re putting him in the same group of people like Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong which he doesn’t deserve.
klyiu1@yahoo.ca
Just curious what's the penalty for the violation. Rule 143.8 uses the word "may", not "shall", which seems to suggest this is not an absolue offence, and that there are circumstances where such action may be excused. I am in no way trying to defend or condone his action, and I accept that rules are rules if the rules make it clear that disqualification will result no matter how minor or serious the infraction is. Considering that he was in compliance with the rule throughout the competition except for, say, the very last moment, it appears to me that the penalty is a bit out of proportion in this situation.
53a993c9-25ec-4e94-adcd-74290a320969
now thats wat i call serves u right. cockiness will never get u far no matter how good you are at something
tsthk
there are many ways of expressing joy other than stripping off your clothes
besides, rules are rules
mercedes2233
What a curious thing to do. Who else strips to express joy?
tomonday
stupid french
philpaul
You might be confusing cockiness with pure joy.

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