One of the goals of Marathon Investigation has been to make runners (and races) aware that some people do cheat in races. Usually when I first talk to people about the topic they are surprised that runners would cheat in races.
Shortly after the site was launched, I focused on qualifiers for The Boston Marathon. There were a couple reasons for this. First, I did not have the resources to examine every result. Most importantly, when someone cheats to enter Boston, they are taking a spot away from someone that otherwise would have earned a Boston bib.
Whenever someone from the B.A.A. is interviewed on the topic of cheating, they understandably downplay the issue. Typically they say that only a very small percentage of runners are disqualified, or that only a small percentage of runners were found to have entered Boston that cheated in their qualifier. While they are correct, the truth is, that for every cheater that is caught, there are more that still go undetected.
One clear sign that the B.A.A. was at least acknowleding the problem and giving runners an easy way to report the problem was that after the 2017 Boston Marathon, for the first time, they included a reporting form to report suspicious results.
The link was active immediately after the 2017 race and was active for a few weeks.
BAA becoming more involved in tracking cheats?
I received an email from a race director earlier this week:
Subject: BAA becoming more involved in tracking cheats?
Not sure if you’ve seen this before.
I’m a Race Director for a small event. Our course is certified, and we submit our results to BAA for qualification purposes. Each year, we get an email from BAA asking for the results, and the formatting of them. I noticed something different this year.
The first paragraph below, is standard and appeared last year, the second paragraph is new this year and appears to address tackling fraud a little more diligently.
If, after submitting results to the Boston Athletic Association, your event makes adjustments to results (including but not limited to disqualifying a runner or discovering a fraudulent performance), please contact the B.A.A. accordingly. The Boston Athletic Association relies upon the good faith of events to provide authentic, accurate results, and expects events to uphold standards of fair athletic competition.
We also ask for your assistance should there be a question about results from your event. This may include an active review of the results, splits, photos or videos to determine the accuracy of a result(s) associated with a particular individual(s).
I am encouraged by that last paragraph. It shows that the B.A.A. may be going a step beyond where they have in the past. In the past, it seems that they accepted results from certified races without scrutiny. Now it seems that they are willing to take a more active role where there is a question about an individual.
When I would find an individual that was registered for Boston with a suspicious result, typically I would contact the qualifying race. Often times they are receptive to reviewing the results. Other times they are not. I don’t have any affiliation with the B.A.A. The races are not obligated to respond to my request to review a result, or to notify me of their determination after reviewing a result. However, when the B.A.A. requests a review, the race will have no choice but to comply.
I don’t need to be a middle man to that process. My hope is that if anyone emails the BAA with a legitimate concern, that they will then contact the qualifying race and ask for a thorough review. This may motivate some races (Disney?) to be more receptive to requests to review times.
Of course, if anyone wants to email me, I am happy to do my own review and email the races as well. Just because you email me, does not mean that I will write an article on that runner. In most cases, I do not. If you are a race director and would like me to proactively comb through your Boston qualifiers, you can email me to discuss partnership opportunities .
Please consider a contribution to help support the site. Contributions help to offset costs associated with running the site and help to enable me to compensate those that assist in data collection, etc.
Thanks to all of you that that support Marathon Investigation!
This is a step in the right direction.
Hopefully this will prompt race directors (and timing companies) to take this matter more seriously.
And a tip of my cap to you, Derek, for shining a light on this subject.
I wish Marathon Guide would take a similar position and correct their database of marathon finishers when results get updated. I’ve emailed them (direct to the site owner), and they don’t do anything. A race I produce is showing 900+ unofficial marathon finishers from 2016. (Yes, 900+, that is not a typo.)
Big Brother is watching you run.
I’m sure Track Shack/runDisney received the same thing. Since BAA is now specifically asking for cooperation, will there soon be consequences for races that ignore this request for assistance?
If I understand correctly, the assertion is that she only ran the last mile. But I don’t understand why she changed from visor to cap, or why she obscured her number at the end. Wouldn’t lots of matching photos help her support her assertion that she ran the entire race?
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