By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
PARIS (26-Aug) — Ezekiel Kemboi finished third in the Olympic Games final of the steeplechase, but was disqualified after a protest by the French federation on behalf of fourth-place finisher, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. Kemboi stepped on the white line between cones as he emerged from the water jump. Although a clear rules violation, it was unlikely that it had any impact on the order of finish (Kemboi finished well ahead of the Frenchman, 8:08.47 to 8:11.52), so that led some fans to feel that the French protest was unsportsmanlike.
Race Results Weekly asked Mekhissi-Benabbad about the incident today at the pre-race press conference for tomorrow’s Meeting de Paris, part of the IAAF Diamond League.
“What I do regret is the judges did not make their work,” Mekhissi-Benabbad said through a translator. “There are rules, we have to follow the rules. I’ve been disqualified in Zurich because of the rules. Here, the judges did not make their work. I am upset for Ezekiel, that is true. But he made a mistake, mistakes. That’s the only thing I can say.”
At the 2014 European Championships Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad was disqualified for removing his shirt while celebrating in the final 100 meters of the steeplechase. He subsequently won the 1500m title.
“First of all, again, there are rules,” he continued. “If it would have been on the other side, I know that Kenya would have made a call against me and disqualify me. It’s an honest way for the meet. I just want to take an example: if someone is simulating a football player, simulating on a football surface and he gets a penalty against the other team, this guy sometimes people say he made a good thing. This is what is bizarre with the rules in sport. There are rules, we have to follow the rules and not cheat.
“I’ll just add that Maradona hit a goal with his hand and he is an idol in Argentina. He cheated. I did not cheat. This is what I have to say about this.”