Skip to main content

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad stripped of gold for impromptu strip

By Paul Gittings, CNN
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
French athlete Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad strips off his running vest in the home straight of the 3,000m steeplechase.
French athlete Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad strips off his running vest in the home straight of the 3,000m steeplechase.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • French runner stripped of European gold in bizarre incident
  • Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took off vest in home straight
  • 3,000m steeplechase star disqualified for indiscretion
  • He has previous history of controversial incidents

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad's bizarre celebration in the home straight of the men's 3,000m steeplechase at the European championships has cost him dear.

Approaching the final barrier, the Frenchman had the race and gold medal in the bag, having enough time in hand to showboat by stripping off his running vest before putting it into his mouth and waving to the crowd.

Fans in the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich jeered as he crossed the finishing line clear of his teammate Yoann Kowal in eight minutes 25.30 seconds -- his third straight victory in the event at the championships after 2010 and 2012.

The 29-year-old had the presence of mind to put his top back after the finish, but the damage was done.

Read: Bolt provides golden finale to Commonwealth Games

He was initially shown a yellow card as a warning by an official, but an appeal by Spain on behalf of fourth placed athlete Angel Mullera led to his disqualification.

His French team lodged a counter-protest but that was rejected, with Mekhissi-Benabbad disqualified under IAAF competition rules 143.1, 143.7. -- relating to clothing and numbers.

Mullera was promoted to the bronze as result of the ruling.

"I find that the protest lodged by the Spaniards is anti fair-play," Ghani Yalouzsa, the technical director of the French athletics federation, was quoted by AFP.

But the double Olympic silver medalist is no stranger to controversy. After winning his 2012 Euro gold in Helsinki he was criticized for shoving a mascot who offered him a gift.

The year before, Mekhissi-Benabbad was involved in a punch-up with French teammate Mehdi Baala at the 2011 Monaco Diamond League meeting, trading blows while they were still on the track and earning a five-month suspension from their federation.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
From spectacular action at the Commonwealth Games , to high-speed drama on the race track, here are the week's best sporting images.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0404 GMT (1204 HKT)
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT