The ‘Shaming’ Defense

marathon runner at the shenzhen international marathon 2013

I’ve addressed criticism that the site shames runners about a year ago. I’ve re-posted this article a couple of times. I stand by what I wrote in The Difference Between Holding People Accountable and ‘Bad Shaming’

Recently, however, I have noticed a pattern when people are called out. When someone gets called out for cheating, lying, acting hypocritically or unethically, instead of rebutting with FACTS , or owning up to the behavior, they (or their supporters)  claim that my articles shame them or result in bullying. Some claim that what is written about them are ‘lies’ but offer no facts to disprove what was written. They accept no accountability

I am going to address some specific instances where these tactics were used in relation to some recent articles that I have written.

 Marathonguide Bib Seller

When I wrote an article about the runner that was trying to buy a Boston bib through Marathonguide – offering to run a qualifying time, I reached out to the sellers for comment. One seller replied. Even after I told the seller that I would not reveal them, she told me that I was shaming her, picking on a poor student.

She claimed to be personal friends with Dave McGillvray (Boston R.D). She also noted I was from Cleveland and claimed her dad had a connection with Lebron James’ agent. She said that he may be interested in how I am picking on a poor college student. Ridiculous stuff. Again I was not going to post anything remotely identifiable. She downplayed the seriousness of selling her bib. She said that if Dave knew about this that he would just tell her to not do it again.

When I posted the article and stated that I would be reporting her, she changed her tone. She was worried about a lifetime ban. But she was blaming me for this, and accepting zero accountability. She told me how hard she trained, and that this was not fair. Again, that is not my fault for uncovering that she sold her bib. It is her fault for selling the bib. She has to live with the consequences.


Trainer and Boston Bombing ‘Survivor’

Just last week I wrote about Katie Dolaher. She ran with a friend’s bib and also misrepresented her proximity to the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon. In interviews promoting her participation in The Most Inspiring Trainer contest, she stated that she was either feet away from the finish line or a few blocks from the finish line. However the timing data clearly shows she was about 1-1/2 miles from the finish at the time of the explosion.

I emailed Katie 24 hours before posting the article, asking her both about the circumstances relating to the bib for 2017 and her proximity to the finish line at the time of the bombing. I did not receive a response until about 30 minutes AFTER I posted the article.

 “Derek, please contact me immediately in regards to the false writings of your story. You have not even spoken to me regarding my story nor do you know who I ran for”

She was right, I did not speak to her. I knew whose bib she ran with but not the details. I did not know these things because SHE IGNORED MY EMAIL.

 I responded via email (I was at work and could not immediately call – I also prefer email in some instances so that I can have record of the communication) asking her what in my article was false. I received no response.

Her sister however did come to Katie’s defense on the MarathonInvestigation Facebook page.

Everyone should check the facts and not Derek’s facts. Katie inspires people everyday. She ran the marathon this year for a dear friend who is battling a devastating sickness. She did NOT steal a bib.

I did not say she stole a bib. I knew it was the original bib and not a copy. I did not know how she obtained the bib because SHE IGNORED MY EMAIL. The key facts are that she ran with someone else’s bib and that she exaggerated her proximity to the bomb. – particularly during interviews relating to the most Inspirational Trainer contest.

 Was it right that she ran in her place so that she could get her friend across the finish line? Yes it was a courageous and generous thing to do. Did Derek check these facts, no? He decided to write an article to tear someone down publicly. This world is full of negativity these days. How about trying to lift people up?

How is it courageous or generous to run with someone else’s bib?  Regardless, she ran with SOMEONE ELSE’S bib. That is never justified. Again, this is another case of someone doing something wrong, and lashing out at the person that dares to call them out for it.

 As far as the 2013 marathon goes, she did not finish as she was turned around as were many others. She never mentioned she did finish! Her entire family was there that day at the finish line at the Forum and had no idea where they were when she was stopped. Yes, these tragic events affect everyone differently and are far too common. So, please before you type a comment think to yourself would you want to be publicly shamed before the facts were really checked?

I never said that she claimed to have finished. Some of her posts could be interpreted that way, but I never posted about that. My issue that I asked Katie about was the inconsistencies regarding her location that day when the bombs went off. Understandable she may not have recalled her exact location. But 1-1/2 miles is not ‘feet away’ or 3 blocks away.

Between Katie’s response and her sister’s response they are quick to question the facts and post about lies, but post nothing to refute what I wrote. No, I didn’t have the full story about her friend whose bib she ran with because SHE IGNORED MY EMAIL.

If you are going to question the facts and call  me a liar, then tell me what facts are wrong or what “lies” I posted. I asked this question on Facebook and via email, but have not received a response.

People that cheat, lie, steel, deceive, etc. are simply able to yell “Bully!!” or “Shaming!!” when someone asks them legitimate questions. This is unfair to those that are truly victimized by bullying or shaming. Writing an article about someone that knowingly cheated in a race, ran with someone else’s bib, or lied in order to enhance their pubic image, is NOT bullying or shaming.

Unfortunately, sometimes people’s reactions to articles can cross the line. That is not unique to my website. I cannot control everyone’s reaction to what they read. I do moderate the comments on both Facebook and this site when I feel a comment crosses the line.

Maine Coast Marathon

I was even accused of bullying an entire Marathon. An issue at The Maine Coast Marathon led to runners running an extra 1/2 mile.

So you’ve moved on to attacking races now. I bet ANYTHING the RD didn’t want to pay you for your “services” so you do this.

This is absolutely false, and again a statement bordering on libel. I’ve posted on other similar issues, and will report on future issues. Runners should be aware when issues come up and how these issues are handled by the races. There were comments that my posting the article on The Maine Coast Marathon could be crippling to the race. For what it’s worth Runner’s World and Daily Mail also reported on this exact issue and I did not see similar criticisms to their articles.

Kelly Roberts

On February 22nd, I posted this article. Women’s Running Magazine Defends Cheaters and Then Calls Out a Cheater.

As a part of the article I posted about Kelly Roberts ( Below is the entirety of what I posted regarding Kelly in that article.

Kelly gained notoriety in March of 2014 when she ran the NYC Half Marathon and came up with the idea of Run Selfie, Repeat. During this race, she took selfies with guys in the background, posting comments like “yummy” “dad action” and “I love sweaty men” to accompany the photos on Instagram. She wasn’t actually registered for the race. She was wearing a friend’s bib. These posts featured the hashtag #hottguysofnychalf
Women’s Running posted many of these photos in an article about Kelly. Kelly eventually built “Run, Selfie, Repeat” into a brand.  Kelly is now a contributor for Women’s Running.  She built a website, where she blogs, and posts her frequent podcasts.
I am confident in saying that if a male runner took selfies that included pictures of unknowing females, and posted them on their Instagram along with similar comments, that the reaction from Women’s Running would have been entirely different.
I will acknowledge her recent article Shame on You Running Community. This article was in the works well before she posted that article. This is not in response to her opinions in that article.I actually agree with most of what she wrote. I am also opposed to the personal attacks, as any reasonable runner would be.

I do, however  disagree with calling out the entire running community. The people that act in this manner are relatively small in number, and do not represent the running community as a whole.

That was it. I wasn’t shaming Kelly. Kelly puts herself out there as a public figure. I think it is completely legitimate to bring up the questions and have a debate. Immediately after I posted the article, she made this post.



In a recent article she apologizes for buying the bib (sort of).

How Running Taught me About The Importance of Vulnerability

She wrote,

I’ve seen how dangerous it can be when someone wears a bib that isn’t theirs and needs medical attention mid-race. It puts the race organizers and volunteers, the medical professionals and the runner in a dangerous position. Would I ever wear someone else’s bib for a race that I really wanted to run now? Hell no. Do I regret doing it back in 2013? Not a single bit.

Because that day, regardless of the fact that I never toed the line with intentions of starting a blog or becoming a voice in the body positivity movement, it was the moment that put me on a path towards finding my voice. It’s because I went viral that I was encouraged to start my blog Run, Selfie, Repeat, and in time discovered why it’s so important for to share my shame, share my story and learn how to be vulnerable for the first time in my life.

She knows how dangerous and how wrong it was to wear someone else’s bib, but she does not regret doing it because of where it led. At least she is being honest.

I would still like to see how she justifies taking selfies with ‘unsuspecting hotties’ while at the same time being an advocate against online bullying and shaming. Again I ask what would be the reaction if I ran a half marathon and did the same with unsuspecting women? Asking this obvious question is neither bullying or shaming.

Kelly recently partnered with Oiselle. Internally within Oiselle team members there was some debate and confusion regarding Kelly’s role. Is she paid? Is she officially sponsored? Her social media posts promoting the brand don’t reference that she is compensated by Oiselle. But in other posts she references receiving compensation.

Aysha Mirza, a (former) member of Oiselle questioned Kelly’s role within Oiselle when an appearance by Kelly was being promoted and  categorized Kelly with the elite athletes. Shortly after that tweet, Aysha was dropped from the team. I planned to include details of this incident within this article. I have reached out to  Oiselle for the article and they have not responded. In addition to asking for the reason for Aysha being dropped, I simply asked what Kelly’s role is within Oiselle and if she is being compensated because if she is compensated, it does not appear that she is following rules for disclosing that fact whenever she mentions the brand. I am going to make further efforts to get a statement from Oiselle (and Kelly) prior to any further posts regarding Oiselle.

I also emailed Kelly with a request to interview her for this article – either via email or phone, but have not received a response.

I completely understand and respect that Kelly has no obligation to answer any questions I have. She doesn’t respect the site. She doesn’t have to. She has referred to my site as my ‘little blog’. That’s her opinion and she is entitled to it. I am also entitled to my opinion regarding what I consider her hypocrisy regarding the selfies that led to her popularity.


Hopefully the intent of this article was clear. If not, I will  reiterate. Too often today, instead of being willing to participate in a meaningful dialogue, people get away with claiming they are a victim of online bullying or shaming while ignoring the facts. Again, I know that bullying and shaming does happen. It’s a real problem on social media. Being held accountable for your actions and being asked to explain your actions does not necessarily equate to shaming. It’s like crying wolf. When people claim everything is bullying or shaming, it distracts from real instances of this.

When I post about a specific person, I always make an effort to contact them to have a discussion. If they don’t respond, that is their choice. But then, they cannot go ahead and complain that I wrote about a topic without getting their side.

My thoughts don’t just apply to running or my experiences with runners relating to this site. Be responsible for your actions.  The trend of blaming the person or publication that is doing the reporting is a bad one. If  a story is inaccurate, then of course it should be questioned. But, we should all be willing to engage in the debate. We should not just be able to claim that reports are lies or unfair and then disappear and not have the debate.


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  1. I think you do a great job of deciding when (and when not) to name names. There will always bandits, bib mules, etc. But the people who are involved in these activities and crow about their accomplishments on social media should be outed, because they’ve fooled people or claimed heroism that is unfounded.

  2. “But then, they cannot go ahead and complain that I wrote about a topic without getting their side.”

    Well, they can… they just aren’t making a good decision in doing so.

  3. I think there’s a lot of confusion now with regards to what constitutes reporting – and yes, what Derek does is reporting, and he does it very well – and what constitutes bullying. Contacting someone and asking them for information for a story you are reporting is not bullying. You aren’t obligated to give a reporter information. However, the reporter can write the story without your contribution, and note your lack of contribution, and that’s still not bullying.

    Do people like being exposed for doing bad things? No. But the blame doesn’t lie on the person doing the exposing.

    • He’s not a journalist. He doesn’t follow journalistic norms. He’s “articles” are basically long winded opinion piece. He doesn’t ever try to be fair. He’s a blogger.

      • MR T (A.K.A, Mike Rossi, Kelly Roberts or Katie Dolaher): Libel arises when one makes A FALSE STATEMENT about another person or entity that causes harm to that person’s or entity’s reputation. Note the words: False Statement: There’s nothing false in any of his “reporting,” blogging or whatever word makes you happy.

        In addition, I can also come to an opinion and then state it publicly that you aren’t an educated person based on your use of bad grammar or dare I say even dumb. Now, that’s my opinion based on your public writings on here. You may not be dumb, your friends/family may say you’re a Rhodes Scholar but the clear reality is that you can not prove libel since you have publicly demonstrated a lack of intelligence or even intellectual carelessness. I have a feeling you will not understand this simple argument and how it applies to the people derek has exposed. Frankly, I don’t think it matters since you’re hiding behind a pseudonym and most likely one of the so called exposes

  4. So Kelly sees herself a a voice in the body positivity movement, but got all her fame and paid positions from objectifying male runners?

  5. Good explanations, as always. It seems many of those caught, and their defenders, are indignant with the spotlight on their hand stuck in the cookie jar. All of Derek’s articles have mentioned his attempts to communicate with subjects. I’d REALLY be interested in what Patty Bib-Thief might have to say; it appears THAT has blown up in her face.

  6. Kelly Roberts is nothing but an attention whore trying to advance her career as an actress! She needs to take responsibility for using somebody else’s bib. This case of bib swapping a relatively minor offense-nobody BQ’d or placed in the race. Own up to it and just admit it was wrong. Instead she thinks the means justifies the ends? What an entitled little attention whore!

    • Derek brought up a good point about the shaming excuse, but you are invalidating it by calling Kelly an “attention whore” there are several ways to add to the discourse without being derogatory. Calling her a whore IS bullying, please rephrase in the future so you’re not adding to the problem. If Derek’s subjects aren’t allowed the shame defense then his audience shouldn’t be shaming.

  7. Taking shots of someone during a race is pretty rude. You are right – if it was a man doing it to a woman they’d be pilloried.

  8. I have taken part in many organised events in the past, both running and triathlon. I have never cheated in my life (I don’t really understand the point of it and am also nowhere near good enough for it to matter). I just wanted to comment and say I do feel sorry for some of the people you post about. It is not your original posts that concern me though, they seem to just be statement of fact, it’s the comments/reports of emails/messages to the individual that make me sad and I would definitely consider some of the ones I’ve seen as frightening/bullying as well as completely unnecessary as the cheating has already been reported.

  9. This statement on why people cheat/lie sums up the individuals you have investigated (not bullied!):

    Protection of positive sense of identity. This less rational view our sense of self, or identity. People want to believe that they are ethical, honest, and morally upstanding. They will go through all sorts of mental shenanigans to maintain this view, even when their behavior is in direct conflict with “reality.” Rather than admit that they lied, cheated, or worse, they twist the facts around so that, in their minds, they didn’t. It’s not consistent with your identity as an honest person to admit that you made up an excuse, so rather than do this, you start to believe in the excuse. Or you might use that famous defense mechanism known as “projection” in which you attribute the blame to someone else. (

    Keep up the great work!

    • He’s a bully. no question. Let’s stop dancing around the issue. Eve notice he predominantly attack women?

      • Seems like a pretty good mix of male and female runners getting called out by Derek in his articles. I haven’t done the analysis, but it seems like he catches more men trying to get fact BQs and more women running with borrowed/copied/stolen bibs. It might just seem like he catches more women because they seem to leave more footprints all over the FB and Insta pages.

  10. It says very clearly on Kelly Roberts instagram that she is Sponsored by Oiselle and Strava. How is that misleading anyone?

    • The FCC has strict rules on how you disclose your sponsorships. Putting it on Instagram doesn’t cover when you promote gear in a Facebook post or in a blog article. Also any Oiselle members actually pay fees to Oiselle and are not paid.

      • FTC, actually, but you are correct. The disclosure needs to be made on every social media post regardless of space constraints, not just in a profile bio, and it needs to be conspicuous (i.e. It can’t be “below the fold” on Instagram). The FTC recently sent out reminders of the rules to brands and influencers who were in violation.

  11. Do you think Katie would have responded to your email if you had waited more than 24 hours?

    I tend to doubt it myself.

  12. Frankly and ironically, I would be tougher than Derek. The glaring irony though is that he does seem to have standards not unlike someone who has their background in journalism which I don’t think he has.

    In addition, these people don’t get that this is all about cheating in races and the depths that people go to break the standard rules of road races specifically marathons. They are the ones that invite further introspection by deflecting, denying, lying via social media and then shaming the accuser who dares to illuminate their transgressions.

    But this is all simple: 1. dont cheat, bib mule, copy a big, bandit a race. 2. When.if caught, apologize to the race (pay a fine/fee, maybe?) and move on with you life. That’s it! Each one of your examples and their friends/family members (Maine Marathon, aside) just don’t get it. They are showing who they really are: self centered borderline narcissists.

    Anyway, keep up the great work.

  13. Most sociopaths defend their behavior. You are actually beyond that. You’ve moved to try to monetize it.

    By a classic legal definition you are guilty of online harassment and possibly other torts.

    But beyond that you too seem to have a problem with your criticism. Instead of addressing legitimate concers about the lack of due process you proceed with. You (and others) simply screeching that any critic just supports the cheaters or doesn’t care.

    Fact is I am more likely (and have been) personally affected by cheaters than Derek ever will. I have been a runner for mire thsn 25 years. I have coached and supported the sport. Derek doesn’t know the history of the sport, he doesn’t care about the integrity. He has admitted to it being a fun exercise with numbers. It could be about baseball, golf, or any sport. He just happened to land on running

    Ill barf one more time if he claims it’s about the integrity. It Derek did his things and just worked with RDs behind the scenes to get the offenders DQ. I’d have no problem. But it’s about a pathological need for attention and more recently trying to make $$ off it. Nothing more.

    Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. I doubt we’d all want a person with no history or context blasting that mistake all over the web. Unless you can say you are perfect you have no right to judge.

    • Mr. T, it would appear as if you or one your friends have been one of the exposed in one of Derek’s articles. I tend to believe if Derek worked behind the scenes with RD’s, the non-exposure of these people would be just as beneficial as not exposing them at all, hence, the cheating/stealing/lying and arrogance that many times goes along with it, would never end as people wouldn’t be exsposed to the things they might do or have done is actually wrong and/or illegal. There are just too many of them out there, and right now as it stands, there is no one actively reporting on these people and the things they do with no conscience otherwise as far as they are concerned. I tend to believe the people that have been caught/reported honestly do not understand or believe they are doing anything wrong, and thats most likely because there is not many actively reporting on this subject matter.
      I ask you Mr. T, do you actually read the articles that Derek posts and the accompanying responses completly? Do you understand the real and honest purpose of this site or even comprehend the legalality and morality behind all the hard work Derek does? As a runner yourself for “mire thsn 25 years” I would think you, more than anyone would understand what is trying to accomplish here Mr. T.

  14. You might want to read up on libel buddy. You are as ignorant about the law as marathon running.

    • I’m posting this again: MR T (A.K.A, Mike Rossi, Kelly Roberts or Katie Dolaher): Libel arises when one makes A FALSE STATEMENT about another person or entity that causes harm to that person’s or entity’s reputation. Note the words: False Statement: There’s nothing false in any of his “reporting,” blogging or whatever word makes you happy.

      In addition, I can also come to an opinion and then state it publicly that you aren’t an educated person based on your use of bad grammar or dare I say even dumb. Now, that’s my opinion based on your public writings on here. You may not be dumb, your friends/family may say you’re a Rhodes Scholar but the clear reality is that you can not prove libel since you have publicly demonstrated a lack of intelligence or even intellectual carelessness. I have a feeling you will not understand this simple argument and how it applies to the people derek has exposed. Frankly, I don’t think it matters since you’re hiding behind a pseudonym and most likely one of the so called “exposes” or their sister, brother, friend

    • What is the classic legal definition of online harassment of which you speak? Putting that in words could help advance this discussion.

      • Ian, don’t take Mr. T’s post seriously. He or She is either one of the offending parties Derek has exposed OR one of their friends or family.

    • I suspect this person has cheated in at least one race, possibly one he BQed in, and take umbrage with Derek’s efforts to expose these sorts of misdeeds in the running community that previously would have gone unnoticed.

      You’re not exactly masking your intentions well.

  15. Derek: good article that outlines your approach and what you’ve done to provide fair and balanced reporting. Some commenters here don’t seem to recognize that often you do just give your results to the race directors and don’t feel the need to write an article about each suspected cheater.
    I will say that I too cringe at some of the comments that people post. Whether they cross the line into bullying or not could be up for debate, but your site might be better overall if you came up with a simple comment policy (and reminding everyone that you reserve the right to remove comments that you find offensive or off topic).

  16. I love what you do. My one thought is that 24 hours isn’t a lot of time. There are a lot of emails I don’t read in that time frame, especially from people I don’t know. Also, email can drop to spam. You might consider more lead time and 2 forms of contact, if at all possible, so your good work can continue.

    • I totally agree with more than 24 hours. I love what Derek does, but giving people only 24 hours to respond is a little ridiculous and then writing in red all over the place that they didn’t respond to your email. These aren’t breaking stories where you need to get them to the press. You should give people at least a few days. Other than that, keep up the good work.

  17. Interesting post. I came to long distance running later in life and was fortunate to BQ a couple of times and would likely have caused you to review my numbers. I ran a 3:11 qualifier and a 4:31 Boston in 2012. Its was the day the temps went around 90 and I got cooked at 15 and had to walk/jog/scrape to finish. That being said, my main hobby is competitive golf and integrity is everything to me. Most high level golfers would rather call a penalty on themselves, even if there is doubt, than to record a lower score. But there are some who don’t and golfers like me called them out first in private and then if needed in public with those involved in the tournament (players and hosts). I see this with some of the fans calling into the PGA and LPGA to identify infractions from the tele. While I agree with your intent, I wonder what happens when someone gets called out to later find they did not cheat. It’s a bell that is hard to un-ring especially on the internet and the instantaneous dog piles that happen (just read any social media or article comment section). What I’ve read seems the cheaters just kept right on digging their hole, but what are your checks and balances (honest question) to not feed the internet machine red meat that isn’t for the grill? In the words of Ray Donovan, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”.

  18. It sounds like you blackmailed the Marathonguide Bib Seller. You threatened to report her only after she refused to comment on your article. You made it very clear that you would protect her anonymity if she would provide comments for ypur article, and then threatened to report her to the race director when she refused. I think that you should think about your own accountability.

    • No.

      I report everyone that I find cheated.

      I told her I would keep her anonymous. Which I did. When I put in the article that I was reporting her, she was threatening me unless I made an exception.

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