My Thoughts on Lehigh Valley’s Disappointing Decision on ‘Marathon Dad’ Mike Rossi, and More.

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Late last Friday afternoon the Lehigh Valley Marathon Committee announced that Mike Rossi will not be disqualified despite compelling evidence that he did not run the full race. The race officials ignored evidence that Mike did not run the course, and did not disqualify him basically because no one saw him not run the marathon. Their full statement is below:

After a thorough review of the available evidence in relation to Mike Rossi’s participation in the 2014 Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon, the Marathon committee concluded that while there is data from Rossi’s participation in other racing events indicating that Rossi’s time may not be accurate, there is not conclusive evidence that his time in the 2014 LVHN Via Marathon is inaccurate.  The LVHN Via Marathon has not received any reports from the more 2,500 race participants, thousands of spectators, and more than 600 volunteers, course marshals, security personnel, medical personnel or race officials on the course of any wrong doing by any runner.  Therefore the LVHN Via Marathon Committee concluded that Rossi will not be disqualified unless additional conclusive information arises in the future.
Moving forward the LVHN Via Marathon has taken several action steps to verify runner participation and provide the utmost accuracy in timing and scoring the race for all runners.  For the 2015 LVHN Via Marathon, the course will have a minimum of six timing mats – at the start, finish line and four additional on-course locations.  In addition, there will be video surveillance of the course at several locations which Via will archive annually.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon is proud to be a Boston Marathon Qualifying event and will continue to support this race by providing athletes the opportunity to be a part of this longstanding tradition.  The LVHN Via Marathon appreciates the running community’s support and vigilance in ensuring the integrity of our race and looks forward to continuing to provide a high quality racing experience.

If he cheated as most expect, there are only two points where he’d be at risk. The start line, and upon re-entering the course. In the crowd at the start, it would be very easy to cross the line and leave the course – no one would notice. And, it’s entirely possible that he ran the last relay leg – it would have been easy to slip right in.

Key points/observations:

  • Mike is the only runner out of 1,065 full marathon participants with no identified on course photos before the finish. The photographers took an extraordinary number of photos. There is at least one spot on the course where there is no gap in photos during the period of time he would have been expected to pass by. Mike could not have been missed had he passed this area. Every other runner is seen here, except Mike.
  • His previous race times do not indicate the ability to run the time he recorded at Lehigh Valley.
  • On a very warm day, he does not appear fatigued.
  • He was untypically quiet about his P.R. time on social media. He would routinely post about training runs..but posted almost nothing about what was a huge PR and accomplishment. 
  • Despite wearing a GPS in the past. Mike claims to not have had a GPS for this run.
  • The 1000 miles in 18 months he says he ran in training is well below what the typical athlete training for a marathon completes.
Why Didn’t Lehigh Valley Disqualify Mike Rossi?
The most likely reason to me is that it wasn’t worth it to them. The Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon is held to support their charity. Mike has retained an attorney. They don’t want to spend resources and time to defend a possible lawsuit. They want the problem to go away.

Here’s the thing though, Mike has no case- and I seriously doubt he’d follow through on any lawsuit. The terms of the race gives them wide latitude to disqualify runners

I agree to abide by any and all rulings of event officials, even if such ruling results in my disqualification..

I understand not wanting to deal with a lawsuit, but the waiver that Mike signed, allows for a disqualification for any reason.

Speaking of Lawyers..

Either Mike or his lawyer have been reviewing the lets run.com thread on this subject going as far as to asking for a post that was a modified quote from the movie ‘Animal House’ be removed. Letsrun complied, banned the user, and threatened to report the user to the authorities. This instance is so absurd to be comical. Below is the quote:

Many on the boards believe that he will file a slander suit. I do not believe this for one moment. Mike would need to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he did run this marathon. There simply has been no evidence that he actually ran. Therefore, he cannot prove even with just a 51% certainty that statements saying he cheated are not factual. In my opinion, Mike wants the world to believe he was vindicated by not being disqualified. He will not risk going into court, and having a ruling against him and have it proven in a very public manner that he did not run this marathon. In my opinion, I feel that he will be happy with the non-DQ and continue to use that as ‘evidence’ that he did not cheat.

Kara Knoblock Moore – Very Similar Case

There is another case that is very similar to Mike, except there is even stronger evidence that the runner did not run the entire course. See this article on Kara Knoblock  Moore.

To me, this case is even more egregious. Ms. Moore celebrated her result throughout social media. Despite the irrefutable evidence presented, it does not appear that she will be disqualified. Whether it is apathy on behalf of the marathon, or fear of lawsuit, this apparent decision to uphold her result is more disturbing to me than the Mike Rossi case.

The evidence is undeniable and easier to understand than the lack of photos with Rossi. For her result to be legitimate, she would have had to run the middle 13.8 miles at a pace under 6 minutes per mile. Her only half marathon was over 2 hours. And she would have had to manage to strip off her sweatshirt which was under her singlet and bib sometime during the process as well.

It will probably never happen, but I would love to see a central organization responsible for all marathon disqualifications. Take the power or responsibility away from the individual marathons. Some marathons have been very proactive and will promptly disqualify runners. Other race directors do not care even in the most obvious cases.

Mike, and Kara or those representing them – If you see this post, please feel free to contact me at  marathoncheat@gmail.com with any explanations you have. I will be happy to post any statement you may want to make or any additional information you may have.

Summary

It will probably never happen, but I would love to see a central organization responsible for all marathon disqualifications. Take the power or responsibility away from the individual marathons. Some marathons have been very proactive and will promptly disqualify runners. Other race directors do not care even in the most obvious cases.

I created this blog after a thread I made regarding Kara was pulled from the forums on letsrun.com. That thread was starting to gain traction as the Mike Rossi case was winding down.I wanted a place where we could compile data in one place and lead race officials to posts when asking them to review results. The intent is not to shame every runner with a questionable result. I try to lay out the facts, and will throw in my opinion for what it’s worth. If I ever misstate something, or get something wrong, I will quickly correct it. By semi-publically publishing these cases, my hope is that it leads to more questionable results being reported, and may serve as a deterrent for others to cheat. Also by making some disqualifications public, it may lead to other R.D’s being more confident in decisions to disqualify runners where warranted.

There have been a # of instances already where people reported results and I just forwarded the details, and they DQ’d the runners – without writing an article.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the website and your article on Rossi and Kara.

    You're doing a great thing for the running community!

  2. "It will probably never happen, but I would love to see a central organization responsible for all marathon disqualifications. Take the power or responsibility away from the individual marathons".

    I think that would be great, all marathons would only need to charge an additional $125 per entry to facilitate and manage such an operation. No cost should be spared to correct the well less than 1% that cheat at marathons.

  3. It is really disappointing when RDs choose to ignore irrefutable evidence of cheating when it is brought to their attention. Most of the examples that have been added to the questionable results page of this website have also "run" a BQ. If the RDs won't disqualify them, then how about notifying BAA who I have to believe wants to maintain some integrity in who gets to run Boston, especially when genuine qualifiers have missed out the last few years. It's too late for Mike Rossi, but not for Kara Knoblock, or for the runners identified in the Goodlife Toronto Marathon last month (they still appear in the results so seems like they weren't DQed). Also, thanks for the efforts in maintaining this website. Already it has worked well as a centralized forum to address these issues and I think you have done a good job of identifying but not mercilessly publicly shaming the individuals involved.

  4. Excellent work and impressed that you are actually doing something.
    Longtime Letsrun Forum cheater threads reader.

  5. If Kara runs Boston, she will get the Rossi treatment on Letsrun. I believe that she has already been personally warned and I'm quite certain that she's aware of this site, so I don't believe for a second that she would be stupid enough to run there.

  6. As I mentioned in my email to you, great work. I would suggest that send a link for this to the race directors of LVM, Boston Marathon and USTAF. My email that I am drafting and that I mentioned to you will be going out to all of the above in addition to sponsors, news outlets and other media and social media venues.

  7. Classic Jay Glassman…sheesh. Sorry to hear that…guy lost all RD credibility around Toronto ages ago.

  8. Thanks for putting this together so succinctly. I think what incensed all of us is not just the unfairness, but the arrogance of Mike Rossi. The arrogance is reminiscent of why most people think Lance Armstrong is despicable.

  9. Too bad. I suspected that you probably wouldn't hear back from the race director for Goodlife. He doesn't give a sh?t about the integrity of his race. He misplaced almost every marker this year on the marathon and the course was actually 200m short in 2014. Have you tried to go through Sportstats.ca who were responsible for the timing during the race? I think they would be more inclined to DQ someone.

  10. Lehigh Valley Marathon Race Director — are you reading? Do you appreciate the good will you could create by doing the right thing?

  11. My hope in regard to Mike Rossi is that the "final word" on him — adding up everything said and thought about him — is that he's a lying, narcissistic cheat. Nothing more. As in, let's say he meets someone for the first time, 2 years from now, maybe the person is a recreational runner who has a flash of recognition for his name and thinks to themselves "wait, this is that cheater guy, isn't it?".

    I'm not looking for his business to fail (maybe he's a good DJ) or for his kids to get harassed. Just for the common knowledge within his community to be accurate on him: lying, narcissistic cheat. That seems fair enough.

    I'm disappointed in LVM. It's easy for me to be critical when it's not my venture being threatened, but it's hard to see why anyone willing flushes their integrity away so readily.

    Thanks for all your hard work on this site.

  12. interesting comments…..I ran Via that day and also wondered about him slipping into the last relay exchange…if memory serves, there was at least one official photo op in the last three miles, so he should have shown up there….

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