August 14, 2014
As expected, France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad won his third straight European Championship in the 3,000 steeplechase in Zurich on Thursday in 8:25.30. Normally we wouldn’t be that interested in a race that the two-time Olympic silver medallist Mekhissi-Benabbad was certain to win. But Mekhissi-Benabbad’s actions over the final straight made it the most memorable steeple race of 2014.
Mekhissi-Benabbad had a 10-meter lead off the final water jump and entering the final straight, he felt like celebrating. So he decided to take off his singlet. With 100 meters — and another barrier — to go.
Once his singlet was off, Mekhissi-Benabbad then quickly glanced over his shoulder to ensure he still had a comfortable lead — he did — and turned to the crowd, waving his arms and clamoring for them to cheer. As he approached the final barrier, he calmly placed his singlet in his mouth, hurdled it, and grabbed it back with his left hand. He continued to celebrate to the finish line, crossing with arms wide. Amazingly, during all this Mekhissi-Benabbad ceded little to no ground, though his countryman and silver medallist Yoann Kowal did gain on him a bit at the very end.
Watch it for yourself:
Quick Take #1: While a two-time Olympic silver medllist in the steeple (2008, 2012) , Mekhissi-Benabbad was perhaps best known prior to today for some questionable antics after races. Now he’ll be known for doing something ridiculous during the race.
His past antics include:
- In 2010, after winning the European steeple title, he pushed down the European Athletics mascot.
- In 2011, after the 1500 in Monaco, he threw several punches after Mehdi Baala head-butted him.
- After winning his last European steeple title in 2012, he shoved the mascot, a 14-year-old girl, shortly after crossing the finish line.
- Last year that year, he allegedly assaulted a high school director because he didn’t want to hire his brother (translated from French)
Quick Take #2: Maybe is just proud of his bare chest. In 2012, after winning Olympic silver, he gave his singlet to Ezekiel Kemboi and posed for photos shirtless as shown here.
Quick Take #3: You can watch his past antics below.
Video of Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad Pushing A Mascot in 2010
Video Of Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad Throwing Punches At Medhi Baala After Being Head-Butted in Monaco in 2011
Video of Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad Pushing A Mascot in 2012
Quick Take #4: Can he be disqualified for this?
Update: YES and he has been disqualified.
Mekhissi-Benabbad was reportedly shown a yellow card after finishing, likely under IAAF Rule 125.5, which states,
“[The Referee] shall have authority to warn or exclude from competition, any athlete guilty of acting in an unsporting or improper manner. Warnings may be indicated to the athlete by showing a yellow card, exclusion by showing a red card. Warnings and exclusions shall be entered on the result card and communicated to the Competition Secretary and to the other Referees.”
Since the yellow card serves as a warning (as it does in soccer), Mekhissi-Benabbad should be okay unless he shows up to the medal ceremony without a shirt as well.
There doesn’t seem to be anything explicitly prohibiting taking your shirt off mid-race but IAAF Rule 143.1 makes it clear that athletes should wear clothing during events.
“In all events, athletes must wear clothing which is clean, and designed and worn so as not to be objectionable. The clothing must be made of a material which is non-transparent even if wet. Athletes must not wear clothing which could impede the view of the Judges. Athletes’ vests should have the same colour on the front and back. At all competitions under Rules 1.1(a), (b), (c), (f) and (g), and when representing their Member under Rules 1.1(d) and (h), athletes shall participate in the uniform clothing approved by their national governing body. The Victory Ceremony and any lap of honour are considered part of the competition for this purpose.”
Note, however, that a victory lap is included as part of the competition. Many athletes take off their shirts during victory laps without penalty.
In summary, while taking your shirt off with 100 meters to go is not the most sporting of gesture
s, it appears that Mekhissi-Benabbad’s victory will be allowed to stand.
Race Results Weekly has reported he was DQd for the following reason: “
He first receive a yellow card from officials for unsportsmanlike conduct, but then the Spanish team protested and the Frenchman was disqualified under IAAF rules 143.1 (“athletes shall participate in the uniform clothing approved by their national governing body”) and 143.7 (athlete bibs “shall be worn visibly on the breast and back”)”.
Past LRC coverage: 2011 Monaco Recap
*MB:Baala headbutts Mekhissi-Benabbad, punches thrown
*MB:Mekhissi-Benabbad Pushes Mascot After Winning Euro Steeple
*MB: Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad in trouble again…