Another Olympian Kicked Out Of London Games For Lack Of Effort
The track-and-field events have gotten underway at the Olympics and they have wasted little time in joining in on the list of embarrassing snafus that we’ve seen from the games this year. In an escalation of last week’s badminton scandal, another Olympian has been kicked out of the games for not trying hard enough. This time, it’s Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi was got stuck in a race he didn’t want to run, and has been punished for quitting mid-race. Guess he should have been riding a bike. Olympics!
Makhloufi qualified for the Olympics in both the 800m and the 1500m races. He was not expected to medal in the 800, but was in contention for a medal in the 1500 after already qualifying for the finals with the fastest qualifying time. After already qualifying for the 1500, his better race, Makhloufi decided to focus on that event and not run in the 800m. However, Algerian officials missed the Sunday deadline to withdraw him from the race, so he was forced to take the blocks.
The runner wasn’t about to tire himself out in a race he had almost no shot in, though, at the expense of a race he could do very well in. After about 3/4 of a lap, Makhloufi stopped, moved to the infield, and clapped for the rest of the field as they lapped him. He wasn’t demonstrative or embarrassing, didn’t interfere with the other runners participating in the race, and even showed a good amount of sportsmanship. Surely they couldn’t be that upset with him, right?
Well, wrong. Despite his exemplary showing of sportsmanship, the International Association of Athletics Federation was more concerned with his spirit of competition and tossed him out of the Olympics altogether for tanking. A spokeswoman for the IAAF said that Makhloufi could be reinstated for the 1500m final if he got a medical certificate from a doctor that excused his poor performance. Yes, if you decide not to try your very best, you had better bring a doctor’s note.
Just like the earlier scandal in badminton, the governing body will likely come under greater criticism than the athlete who perpetrated the lapse in effort. There are just so many questions to be answered by IAAF. When did the Olympics become compulsory? How much effort is “enough” effort? Could he have power-walked the track and been in the clear? Isn’t not winning the 800m the proper punishment for not trying in the 800m? If he had just grabbed his leg before stopping, would that have been cool?
We will likely never get the answers to those questions. Just another day, and yet another Olympic-sized face palm.