No shirt, no medal French runner told

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad

European Championship steeplechase ends in shirt-waving disqualification controversy - and an on-track marriage proposal

FRENCH athlete Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad last night finished first in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European Championships in Zurich, but was later disqualified because he pulled off his shirt in celebration 100m before the end of the race.

He fell foul of a rule that states that athletes’ bibs must not be obscured in any way during a race. It is the same rule that led IOC chief Jacques Rogge to reprimand Usain Bolt after he won the 100m final at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Bolt’s crime was to beat his chest as he crossed the line in a world record time.

Initially, Mekhissi-Benabbad was given a yellow card, but this was upgraded to disqualification following a complaint from the Spanish team.

Their athlete, Ángel Mullera, crossed the line in fourth place, but was moved up to the podium as a result of the disqualification.

The French team appealed, but the disqualification was upheld.

The gold medal has been awarded to Mekhissi-Benabbad’s compatriot Yoann Kowal, who kept his shirt on as he crossed the line in second.

Shortly after the race, and still out of breath, Kowal proposed to his fiancee on the Zurich track.

Image: France 2 screengrab

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