Stripping French Runner Loses Gold Medal

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad punished for showboating

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2014 2:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad has shown the world how you can be top of your game and still be a loser: As he approached the finish line in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European championships in Zurich, the French runner stripped off his vest, jammed it in his mouth, and waved to the crowd in a display of showboating that caused authorities to decide to strip him of his medal, reports CNN. The 29-year-old received a warning at first but authorities decided to take away the gold—technically because his runner's bib was not visible—after Spain appealed on behalf of the fourth-placed athlete.

"When I took off my vest on the last meters, it was because of my joy, of course," the Frenchman said, as per Reuters, before he was stripped of what would have been his third consecutive gold in the event. "It was the pleasure of winning. I was so happy to defend my title." This is far from the first controversy involving Mekhissi-Benabbad, the Telegraph finds. He shoved a 14-year-old girl mascot to the ground at the European finals in 2012, pushed another mascot at the previous finals in Barcelona, and was suspended after fighting a teammate on the track at a 2011 event in Monaco.

France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad celebrates shirtless after a previous win.
France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad celebrates shirtless after a previous win.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad poses with his bronze medal for the men's 3000-meter steeplechase at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow last year.
France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad poses with his bronze medal for the men's 3000-meter steeplechase at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow last year.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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Mekhissi-Benabbad starts celebrating around 0.45.   (YouTube)

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