Mehiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad confirmed his reputation as the enfant terrible of athletics here tonight as he was disqualified from what would have been his third consecutive European 3,000 metres steeplechase victory after he had celebrated down the final straight by ripping off his shirt and jamming it into his mouth as he cleared the final hurdle.
Before starting his lap of honour, the French athlete was shown a yellow warning card by a track official for infringing International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Rule 125.5 concerning "acting in an unsportsmanlike or improper manner".
But his gold was lost following a successful appeal by Spain, who cited IAAF rules relating to "clothing, shoes and bibs."
As a result, Spain's Angel Mullera moved up to take bronze.
But the silver, or rather golden lining for France was that the title thus passed to Mekhissi-Benabbad's team-mate Yoann Kowal, who had moved from fourth to second in the final 200m to finish ahead of Krystian Zalewski of Poland.
This is the latest in a series of controversial incidents involving the 29-year-old Reims-born athlete, the highest-profile of which occurred in 2011 when he traded blows on the track with fellow countryman Mehdi Baala after they had raced over 1500m in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
The French Athletics Federation suspended both athletes for 10 months, with five months suspended, fined them €1,500 (£1,200/$2,000) each and ordered them to perform 50 hours of community service.
Both, however, were cleared to compete in that summer's World Championships in Daegu.
Mekhissi-Benabbad has also got into bad books following two incidents involving European Championship mascots.
At the 2010 Championships in Barcelona he asked a mascot to kneel in front of him before pushing it to the ground.
And two years later, in Helsinki, the Finnish newspaper Karjalainen reported that, after retaining his 3,000m steeplechase title, he walked over the the Championship's mascot "Appy", which was being worn by a 14-year-old girl, smacked a gift bag out of her hands and pushed her with both hands.
He was not sanctioned for the incident, and did not apologise for it.
The finishing straight high-jinks, which made any of Steve Ovett's past efforts appear pedestrian in comparison, were meant to be lighthearted by Mekhissi-Benabbad, who made several rising gestures with his palms to encourage reaction from the crowd as he closed in on the line.
But the effect was crude, and his immediate post-race comments were full of dramatic irony:
"When I took of my vest on the last metres, it was because of my joy, of course! It was the pleasure of winning," he said.
"I was so happy to defend my title.
"The main thing was to win. I did not know that I was going to get a yellow card for that.. .the Zurich audience helped me a lot, it supported me a lot. I appreciated this very much.
"It is never easy to be the favourite in a race.
"But this yellow card, this is nothing.
"It was just the emotion.
"Today I will enjoy my victory and we have to see how this evening will finish."
The immediate comments of Mullera, however, were ominous for the Frenchman:
"I would have been very happy with either placing but I would have liked to get the justice for the winner's behaviour and I would have liked to get the bronze medal," he said.
The Spanish protest cited IAAF Rule 143.1: "In all events, athletes must wear clothing which is clean, and designed and worn so as not to be objectionable...athletes shall participate in the uniform clothing approved by their national governing body. The Victory Ceremony and any lap of honour are considered part of the competition for this purpose..."
And also IAAF Rule143.7: "Every athlete shall be provided with two bibs which, during the competition, shall be worn visibly on the breast and back..."
France also had another apparent medal-winning performance disqualified as Dmitri Bascou, who finished third in the 110m hurdles, was ruled to have obstructed an opponent in the next lane.
There was recompense here, too, however, for Les Bleus, as Bascou's demise raised their pre-race favourite, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who had clocked 12.95sec just prior to these Championships, onto the podium behind silver medallist William Sharman of Britain, who clocked 13.27, and Russia's Sergey Shubenkov, who retained his title in 13.09.
France also took gold without any controversy in the men's triple jump, where a first round effort of 17.46 metres, the best in Europe this season, earned Benjamin Compaore victory.
Barbora Spotakova became the second recently returned mother to earn gold gold here after returning from giving birth as she followed the achievement by Britain's Jo Pavey in the 10,000m to earn dramatic victory in the javelin.
The Czech Republic's double Olympic gold medallist and former world champion, who took last season off after giving birth to a son, had never won a European title, but moved from third to first with her fifth effort of 64.41m, surpassing by 20 centimetres the effort immediately preceding it which had taken Serbia's Tatjana Jelaca into the gold medal position ahead of Germany's Linda Stahl, eventual bronze medallist with 63.91m.
Anzhelika Sidorova earned an even more dramatic victory in the pole vault as she cleared 4.65m on her third and final attempt to move above Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece, who had finished her competition with a best of 4.60m but was above the Russian on countback.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
August 2014: Great for Britain as Farah, Dasaolu and Porter take European golds
August 2014: Pavey becomes oldest female European champion at 40
August 2014: Letzigrund's "unique" new track promises faster times at European Athletics Championships
August 2014: More than 1,000 hours of TV coverage set to be broadcast from Zurich European Championships