Taoufik Makhloufi, the Algerian middle-distance runner who was expelled from the Games on Monday, was reinstated on Tuesday – and went on to win gold in the men’s 1,500m race.
He won in a time of 3 minutes 34.08 seconds, while an American, Leonel Manzano, took silver in 3:34.79, and another African, Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider, took bronze in 3:35.13, reports the Algeria Press Service (APS).
Makhloufi’s extraordinary reversal of fortune quickly became one of the big talking points of the athletics competition.
Reuters reported that he tried to withdraw from Monday’s 800m race but didn’t meet a Games deadline, then dropped out after running only 200m. As a consequence, he was expelled by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“The referee considered he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition,” the IAAF said.
But APS said he withdrew with an injury and, after a medical examination showed he had a lesion on the knee, he was readmitted. A Reuters writer laconically suggested that “if he was injured, [he] enjoyed a miraculous overnight recovery as he hit the front at the bell and streaked clear of a tight pack with a devastating final lap to win…”
Robert Kitson of London’s Guardian newspaper had a gentler take. “Idle perceptions have rarely been confounded so swiftly and utterly,” he wrote, adding that the Algerian might be dubbed “The Man Who Won Olympic Gold After Being Thrown Out For Not Trying.”