French runner strips before finish, officials strip him of gold medal

It was a case of tit for tat.

French runner Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took off his shirt before crossing the finishing line. In return, officials stripped him of his European Athletics championships gold medal.

The winner of the 3000 metres steeplechase event in 2012 looked well on his way to defending his title.

Unfortunately, a lack of sportsmanship got in the way.

The Frenchman was ahead of the rest of the pack when he pulled off his vest around the final bend.

He then put it in his mouth as he waved to the crowd.

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During the final stretch, Mekhissi-Benabbad held his shirt in his hand and sprinted towards what he thought would be his third successive European gold medal.

Guess he celebrated too soon.

He was initially slapped with a yellow card from a track official for "acting in an unsporting or improper manner".

Before his disqualification was announced: Mekhissi-Benabbad said:  “It was the pleasure of winning. I was so happy to defend my title.The main thing was to win. I did not know that I was going to get a yellow card for that. But this yellow card, this is nothing. It was just the emotion. Today I will enjoy my victory and we have to see how this evening will finish.”

Unfortunately, he spoke too soon.

He's now medal-less, disqualified after Spain (whose athletes finished fourth and fifth) made an official protest citing rules on "clothing, shoes and bibs", organisers said. 

The gold medal will now go to fellow countryman Yoann Kowal instead. 

This is not the first time the runner has stirred controversy.

In the last championship in 2012,  Mekhissi-Benabbad shoved a mascot. Turned out the person in costume was actually a 14-year-old girl.

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Hope he learns his lesson!

Source: The Guardian, AFP