Another day and another ‘tanking’ controversy at the Olympics. Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi has been thrown out of the Olympics for not trying during his 800m heat. Makhloufi was not a favorite in the 800m, but was thought to have a shot at a medal in the 1,500m in which he had already advanced to the finals with the fastest qualifying time.
After making the finals in the 1,500m Makhloufi decided to focus on that event and not run in the 800m, but Algerian officials did not withdraw him from the race by Sunday’s deadline. As a result Makhloufi was forced to run the 800m. Not wanting to tire himself out Makhloufi jogged for ¾ of a lap before stopping, he then walked to the infield and clapped for the rest of the field as they lapped him.
Despite his good spirit the International Association of Athletics Federation was less than pleased by his effort and threw Makhloufi out of the Olympics entirely. A spokeswoman said he could be reinstated for his 1500m final if he could get a medical certificate from a doctor excusing his poor performance.
Much like the badminton scandal it seems like the ruling body will come under as much or more fire for this decision than the athlete in question. Makhloufi didn’t want to race in the 800m; that much is clear. But how much effort would he have had to give to be allowed to race in the 1,500m? If he walked the two laps would that have been enough? It would seem not advancing in the 800m should be punishment enough.
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