(VitalNews.org) – A Scottish athlete has been handed a 12-month ban from competing in races after cheating during a 50-mile English ultra-marathon in 2023. Joasia Zakrzewski was awarded the third-place trophy and medal after finishing the Manchester-Liverpool ultra-marathon, both of which she accepted and took home with her. The 47-year-old competitive runner went on to post about her successful finish on social media before race officials realized that anything was amiss.
Data from the race showed Zakrzewski completing one of the race miles in just one minute and forty seconds, which would be an unusually fast time had she run on foot. An investigation into the matter showed that Zakrzewski had in fact got into her friend’s car and been driven for about two and a half miles of the race. Zakrzewski had her medal and trophy taken from her for her actions, as well as being banned for a year by UK Athletics, the sport’s governing body.
Zakrzewski told officials that she had not intended to cheat but had injured her leg during the race and accepted the offer of a car ride from a nearby friend, at which point she planned to quit the race. After a short stint in the car, she said she felt well enough to continue the race but understood that she needed to do so in a non-competitive manner. Upon reaching the finish line and being awarded the third-place trophy, she claimed that she felt unwell and confused, and forgot to inform the officials that she had not run competitively and had hitched a car ride for part of the race.
Officials rejected the runner’s explanation, arguing that she should have refused the trophy and explained her actions on the day. They added that she took her awards home and posted about the day on social media without mentioning that her finish was non-competitive. She then had a full week to correct the situation and allow the officials to hand the third-place victory to the appropriate athlete, but instead did nothing. Zakrzewski, a doctor who now lives in Australia, apologized for her actions, saying that she was “not thinking clearly”.
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