Runner caught on camera attacking teenage mascot
French steeplechaser filmed shoving 14-year-old girl in suit after winning gold in Euro Championships
IT'S NOT been a great summer for the reputation of French sportsmen. Last month Samir Nasri told a reporter to "f*** off" at the Euros while three of his team-mates got embroiled in a dressing-room bust-up. Now a French athlete has been caught on camera assaulting a 14-year-old female mascot.
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad had just romped to victory in the 3000m steeplechase final at the European Championships in Helsinki when the incident happened. Getting applause from the crowd after he crossed the line, the 27-year-old wondered toward the Championship mascot 'Appy', who was waiting with a gift bag to congratulate him.
However, rather than greeting the mascot with humour – it is, after all, a giant white square head on legs with goofy eyes and a fixed smile - Mekhissi-Benabbad knocked the bag to the ground and shoved the mascot back aggressively.
The 14-year-old girl inside the mascot was reported to be slightly winded, according to the Daily Mail, but otherwise unharmed. Nonetheless Championship director Mika Muukka called the behaviour "completely unacceptable" and said he hoped the European Athletic Association would investigate.
Mekhissi-Benabbad is now facing the prospect of a ban for his finish-line antics, and not for the first time in his career. Last year the runner was filmed fighting his countryman Medhi Baala after a 1,500m race in Monaco, for which he received a ten-month suspension.