Runner disqualified for shirtless finish
French athlete Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad has been disqualified for removing his shirt before the finish of the 3000m steeplechase at the European Championships.PT0M0S 620 349
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad has been stripped of the 3000 metres steeplechase gold medal after performing a shirtless celebration down the final straight at the European Athletics championships.
The Frenchman, well clear of the rest of the field, pulled off his vest as he came around the final bend and put it in his mouth as he waved to the crowd.
He then held it in his hand as he sprinted down the final straight for what appeared to be his third successive European gold in the event but turned out to be a premature celebration.
Bit between his teeth: France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. Photo: Getty Images
He initially received a yellow card from a track official for "acting in an unsporting or improper manner", before he started his lap of honour.
He was later disqualified after Spain, whose athletes finished fourth and fifth, made an official protest citing rules on "clothing, shoes and bibs", organisers said.
Mekhissi-Benabbad's compatriot Yoann Kowal, who had moved from fourth to second in the final 200 metres, took gold instead, ahead of Krystian Zalewski (Poland) and Spain's Angel Mullera.
Final stretch: Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad enters the home straight. Photo: AFP
"When I took off my vest on the last metres, it was because of my joy, of course," he told the championship's website before the disqualification was announced.
"It was the pleasure of winning. I was so happy to defend my title. The main thing was to win. I did not know that I was going to get a yellow card for that.
"But this yellow card, this is nothing. It was just the emotion. Today I will enjoy my victory and we have to see how this evening will finish."
France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad before undressing. Photo: AFP
Kowal said: "What Mahiedine did with his vest was not disturbing or anything, nothing important."
Mekhissi-Benabbad has garnered a reputation for his controversial outbursts. One disturbing incident captured on video involved the athlete slapping and then pushing "Appy", a European Championships mascot worn by a 14-year-old girl in Helsinki.
Mekhissi-Benabbad's history with mascots continued in Barcelona where he requested a mascot kneel in front of him before pushing the mascot to the ground.
The Algerian-born athlete was again embroiled in controversy when he was suspended along with teammate Mehdi Baala after they traded blows following the 1500 metres at a Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
At one point Baala head-butted Mekhissi-Benabbad who responded by swinging his arms wildly as he threw a series of punches, some of which missed their intended target.
Reuters with smh.com.au