Taoufik Makhloufi, One of the 1500m Favorites, Is Kicked Out of the Olympic Games 1500m Final

By LetsRun.com
London, UK
August 6, 2012

Update: Makhloufi has been re-instated and is now listed as a DNF in the 800 instead of as a DQ and thus he will be able to run the 1500m final. Thread here.

In a stunning development, Taoufik Makhloufi of Algegia, who on Sunday had suddenly became the favorite for the 1500m final after dominating his semifinal in such a fashion that stunned former world record holder Steve Cram yesterday, has been disqualified from the 800m and kicked out the Olympic 1500m final, after being deemed to not have given an honest effort in the first round of the 800m.

Makhloufi was entered in the 800m today and started heat number five. He ran around the first turn in his lane, then immediately cut into lane one, jogged down the backstreth in last place for 200m, and then stepped off the track. Makhloufi then managed to cut across the track and cheer on the other 800m runners as they came around on the second lap. Screen shots below.  

Rewatching the BBC feed we saw no injury or mention of an injury, but this LetsRun.com message board post claims on the worldwide feed that Makhloufi was "walking off with a trainer, favoring his leg" and an Ethiopian journalist said Makhloufi was acting like he was injured.

The IAAF disqualified Makhloufi saying, "The Referee considered that he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition under Rule 142.4." Rule 142.2 says:

    Failure to Participate
    4. At all meetings under Rule 1.1(a), (b), (c) and (f), except as provided below, an athlete shall be excluded from participation in all further events in the competition, including relays, in cases where:
    (a) a final confirmation was given that the athlete would start in an event but then failed to participate;
    Note: A fixed time for the final confirmation of participation shall be published in advance.

    (b) he qualified in a preliminary round of an event for further participation in an event but then failed to participate further.
    Note: Failure to participate includes failure to compete honestly with bona fide effort. The relevant Referee will decide on this and the corresponding reference must be made in the official results. The situation foreseen in this Note will not apply to combined events individual events.

Anna Legnani, the IAAF Deputy Director of Communications, told LRC that entries for the 800m were confirmed at noon yesterday. Once Makhloufi was confirmed he had to show up and give an honest effort. Anna said for Makhloufi to be reinstated now the Algerians need to present a certificate from a local doctor saying Makhloufi has a medical problem.

Quick Take #1: Anyone who watched this race today and yesterday's race could tell that Makhloufi wasn't trying at all. He looked superhuman on Sunday night and then today just short of 15 hours later was jogging off the track 200 meters into the race. But it's still stunning to see him DQd.

QT #2: This isn't the first high profile DQ of the Olympics for not giving an honest effort, but various sports seem to be treating things differently. Four doubles teams in badminton were DQd for trying not to win but the Japanese women's soccer head coach wasn't disciplined after he reportedly told his team to not win their final group match which they played out to a 0-0 draw.

QT #3: Makhloufi's 1500 semi win in 3:42.24 which featured a 1:49 high final 800 certainly was stunning and to be truthful our reaction was similar to Steve Cram's when we watched it live. But we asked LetsRun.com coaching/stat guru John Kellogg what top guys have closed in in the past in some high profile races. Here is what he emailed.

      The fastest final 800s in a 1,500 that I can think of:

      Abdi Bile (Somalia) ran a 1:46.0 last 800 in the 1987 Worlds to get the gold in 3:36.80.

      Rui Silva (Portugal) ran a 1:46.3 last 800 in the 2004 Olympics to get the bronze in 3:34.68.

      Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco) ran a 1:46.7 last 800 in the 2004 Olympics to get the gold in 3:34.19 (his lifetime best for the open 800 was 1:47.18).

      Bernard Lagat (Kenya) ran a 1:46.8 last 800 in the 2004 Olympics to get the silver in 3:34.30.

      El Guerrouj ran a 1:47.1 last 800 in the 1996 Grand Prix Final to end Noureddine Morceli's (Algeria) 4-year winning streak and win in 3:38.80.

      The world record for 1,500 is 1:49.87 800 pace, so closing in under 1:50 in a slow-starting and physical race is impressive, but not otherworldly.

Makhloufi Cutting in Sharply

Makhloufi on Rail

Makhloufi Jogging in Last

Makhloufi Clapping for Competitors on Next Lap

UK visitors can watch the race at the 1:32:00 mark of this video.

Update: Makhloufi has been re-instated and is now listed as a DNF in the 800 instead of as a DQ and thus he will be able to run the 1500m final. Thread here.

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