Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, of France, was leading in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the European Athletics Championships and seemed to be well on his way to victory when he celebrated too soon.
After the final turn of the race on Thursday, Mekhissi-Benabbad suddenly took his shirt off, placed it in his mouth and started waving to the crowd in the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich, Switzerland, reported CNN (video below).
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Mekhissi-Benabbad held his shirt in his hand as he crossed the finish line for what he thought was his third straight victory in the race after winning in 2010 and 2012.
However, he was cited by a track official with a yellow card for “acting in an unsporting or improper manner," noted The Guardian.
After Spain filed an official protest, Mekhissi-Benabbad was stripped of his gold medal.
France's Yoann Kowal, the second place finisher, was awarded the win.
“When I took off my vest on the last metres, it was because of my joy, of course,” Mekhissi-Benabbad said before he was stripped of his victory. “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," added Mekhissi-Benabbad. "Today I will enjoy my victory and we have to see how this evening will finish.”