DAEGU, South Korea, (Reuters) – France’s Mehdi Baala, who slugged it out on the track with a team mate in Monaco last month, is starting to think he is cursed after falling in the 1,500 metres heats at world championships on Tuesday.
Olympic bronze medallist Baala made headlines when he traded blows with Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad in an extraordinary incident at the finish line at a Diamond League meeting after they both trailed home as backmarkers in the 1,500 meters on July 22.
On Tuesday, the 33-year-old 2003 world silver medallist was looking good for a place in the semi-finals from the second heat but tripped on the kerb and fell over when coming into the home straight.
“This is really bad luck because things were running well for me in the race, the race was not too fast — just like I like it,” he told reporters.
“I have the impression that I am really attracting and collecting trouble these days. First the fight, then I got a small injury in training two days ago and today I fall and do not finish my race.”
The French team later lodged an official protest that their athlete had been jostled, hoping that he would be reinstated for the semi-finals.
“Another athlete touched me but I do not know who it was,” said Baala.
The French Athletics Federation handed Baala and Mekhissi-Benabbad suspended bans and fines for what it described as their “unspeakable behaviour” in Monaco, although they were cleared to run in Daegu.
Baala, who finished fourth in Beijing but was bumped up to third when winner Rashid Ramzi lost his gold medal for a doping infraction, said it was his attempt to commiserate with Mekhissi-Benabbad that had started the fight.