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No vest for the wicked - Mekhissi-Benabbad stripped of gold

ESPN staff
August 15, 2014
Mekhissi rejects disqualification verdict

Everyone knows one of the most annoying rules in football is seeing a player given a yellow card for taking their shirt off.

But athletics has gone one step further.

Spare a thought for France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad who, on Thursday, was sensationally stripped of his 3000 metres steeplechase gold medal at the European Championships - for stripping off down the home straight.

In an astonishing finish to the race held at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich, Mekhissi-Benabbad ripped his vest off during the last stretch and held it in his teeth, goading the paying punters as he approached the line.

He was originally given a "yellow card" for his actions - a warning - but, following a 'shirty' protest from the Spanish team, he was later officially disqualified.

As a result, Mekhissi-Benabbad's French team-mate Yoann Kowal was awarded gold by default, while Spain's Angel Mullera was bumped up to bronze - a "vested" interest in their protest, if you will.

Mekhissi-Benabbad later said: "I celebrated my victory as a football player - there was no arrogance towards my opponents or the public. I have too much respect for my rivals and too much love for my sport to behave in an unsporting way. I respect the judges' decision."

According to the International Association of Athletics Federations rulebook, Mekhissi-Benabbad was seemingly guilty of obscuring his "bib" during a race.

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