The Frenchman, well clear of the rest of the field, pulled off
his vest as he came around the final bend, put it in his mouth as he
waved to the crowd.
He then held it in his hand as he sprinted down the final straight
for what appeared to be his third successive European gold in the
event but turned out to be a premature celebration.
He initially received a yellow card from a track official for
"acting in an unsporting or improper manner" before he started his
lap of honour.
But he was later disqualified after Spain, whose athletes finished
fourth and fifth, made an official protest citing rules on
“clothing, shoes and bibs”, organisers said.
Mekhissi-Benabbad's compatriot Yoann Kowal, who had moved from
fourth to second in the final 200 metres, took gold instead, ahead
of Krystian Zalewski (Poland) and Spain’s Angel Mullera.
“When I took off my vest on the last metres, it was because of my
joy, of course,” he told the championship’s official website before
the disqualification was announced. “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
Kowal said: “What Mahiedine did with his vest was not disturbing or
anything, nothing important.”
Mekhissi-Benabbad has been involved in controversy in the past and
was once suspended along with team mate Mehdi Baala after they
traded blows following the 1,500 metres at a Diamond League meeting
[to top of second column]
At one point Baala head-butted Mekhissi who responded by swinging his arms
wildly as he threw a series of punches, some of which missed their
Elsewhere, double Olympic champion and former world champion Barbora
Spotakova won her first European gold medal in the javelin, throwing
64.41 metres with her fifth effort.
Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia won the women's pole vault in dramatic
style as she cleared 4.65 metres on her third and final attempt to move
above Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece, who had finished her competition
with a best of 4.60 but was ahead on countback.
Frenchman Benjamin Compaore's opening effort of 17.46 metres was enough
to win the triple jump and Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov retained his title
in the 110 metres hurdles as he won in 13.19 seconds.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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