French runner Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad achieved a new low for athletes this week when he slapped and then shoved a mascot costume after he won the 3,000m steeplechase in Helsinki. His attack on “Appy” and the 14-year-old girl inside has left people outraged around the world.
The 27-year-old runner had just won the 3,000-meter steeplechase race at the European Athletic Championships when he was approached by the girl in the “Appy” outfit. She attempted to give him a gift bag. He first knocked it out of her hand and then shoved her.
Now here’s the truly bizarre part. In 2010, Mekhissi-Benabbad reportedly had another incident with a mascot at the 2010 European Athletic Championships in Barcelona. He supposedly asked a mascot to kneel before him before pushing it over. He was also suspended for 10 months last year after getting into a fight with another French runner.
He obviously has a major behavioral and civility problem. What should the punishment be for such an athlete. I would not take away the victory but I would suspend him, again, for his conduct. In this case, he assaulted a child working for the event and acted in the most unsportsmanlike way. Given his history, a long suspension would appear justified. However, what do you think about negating the win since the attack occurred at the very end of the race?