Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad marches — or runs — to the beat of a different drummer. The 29-year-old French athlete was up to his old tricks Thursday. The two-time Olympic silver medalist was on the verge of winning his third straight title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the European Championships in Zurich. With roughly 100 meters to go in the race though, he was overcome with exuberance and took off his shirt. He then motioned to the crowd asking them to cheer, clutched his singlet in his mouth and crossed the finish line well ahead of his fellow competitors. He was originally given a yellow card warning by officials. But following a protest by Spain, Mekhissi-Benabbad was disqualified. Track and field's world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has a rule that bibs should not be obscured in any way during the race. Yes, he was stripped of his gold for stripping. As a result, countryman Yoann Kowal was awarded the top spot.
This isn't the first time the talented runner has been embroiled in controversy. Two years ago, Mekhissi-Benabbad inexplicably shoved a mascot (which turned out to be a 14-year-old girl) during the Euro finals. And three years ago at another meet, he came to blows with a teammate. This tweet sums up his greatest hits.
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad's highlight reel pic.twitter.com/94l31lj1vb
— Jon Mulkeen (@Statman_Jon) August 14, 2014