Why Was The Homeless Bandit Singled Out?

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Hunt for London Marathon spectator who found lost runner's number and claimed medal METRO GRAB taken from: www.marathonfoto​.com Credit: Marathonfoto

Peter Mowbray made the viral post about Jake Halliday’s lost bib. Jake lost his bib near the end of The London Marathon. It was hot, and while removing his shirt, he somehow dropped his bib. When he looked at the photos, he saw that someone else crossed the finish line with his bib, and collected a finisher’s medal.

When I became aware of this story, I saw that Peter had removed his post. I had planned to write about this incident until I learned that Peter removed the post because Peter did not want attention. After Peter’s post, Jake was contacted by many members of the media. So, I did not write an article. But, it did not matter. Later in the day, the story was being reported everywhere in the U.K.

 

 

The Imposter is Identified

Following the media coverage, the imposter was identified as Stainslaw Supian. The homeless man says he jumped in the race (without a bib) around the 12 mile mark. The missing bib was found shortly before the finish. Supian was quoted as saying that he felt he deserved the medal.

“I saw the number face-up in the middle of the road. I knew if I had one I would get a medal – my heart leapt. It was a dream come true. I had no thoughts of the person whose number it was.” 

“I felt on top of the world, finishing the race for all the homeless people, proving that you can achieve anything without money. After all, I ran nearly the full distance, didn’t I?”

After the publicity regarding the race, Supian continued to make headlines. He was accused of stealing a boat, and he was allegedly attacked by a mob that was offended by his ‘fraud’.

 

 

 

Charged with Fraud

Skupian found himself in court to face charges of fraud and theft related to some small items found in his possession at Heathrow airport – where he was apparently living.

He plead guilty to the fraud and on June 21st he was sentenced to 13 weeks of jail for the fraud and another 3 weeks for the thefts.

The offences are so serious as only a prison sentence will suffice

 -Magistrate Michael O’Gorman


It is good to see that justice has been done

 -Nick Bitel – Chief Executive London Marathon

 

Uneven Justice

It was reported in the Mirror, that during testimony, Bitel said that Supian’s actions could damage the integrity of the race.

This is the same race that removed Ryan Lee from the results based on their timing error. Instead of properly investigating their timing systems, they initially demanded that Lee prove that he could run a 10k in 33 minutes. Only after going to the media and much effort from Ryan’s mother and myself, was he reinstated.

It would seem that both the court and the marathon used the publicity to make a point and to make a sample out of Supian. Just this year there were documented cases of infractions much worse than Supian’s.

Yes Supian ran part of the course as a bandit. He was one of probably hundreds to do so. It is not right – and I’m all for coming down on bandits and issuing fines, citations, etc as a deterrent.

I wrote about members of The Malvern joggers who copied and forged bibs for The London Marathon.

 

The runner above forged a copy of another runner’s bib. This was clearly pre-planned and intentional. He ran a race that he did not pay for, and fraudulently gained access to the course. Why is it that this runner is not facing charges? I also learned that he ran with a copied bib in 2017 as well. Maybe because this case did not get the same level of attention as the homeless runner, it wasn’t worth the effort. Maybe the race is not aware.

But surely they are aware of the other course cutters that I wrote about and that were also written about in the London press. Why were they not charged? They too, collected medals after failing to complete the entire marathon distance.

In my opinion, it seems obvious that this sentence was only imposed on this particular runner, and that The London Marathon chose to speak out against this particular runner because of the publicity surrounding this situation. Of the many cases I’ve come across regarding banditing, bib swapping, or bib forging, this was just about the least egregious offense. Supian’s comments that he deserved the medal were head scratching for sure. But what he did is far less severe than those that steal their way into marathons by forging bibs.

An interesting Sidenote

Lost in all of this was the story of the original bib owner.

Jake Halliday reportedly lost his bib after removing his shirt near the end of the race. He was pulled off the course just short of the finish line by race officials because he was not wearing a bib. Upon first hearing this, it seems reasonable. However, at London, the timing devices are not attached to the bib, but are worn on their shoe.

Officials could easily have determined that Halliday had a timing chip on his shoe and allowed him to cross the finish line. They could have sorted out the bib situation later – to make certain that Halliday did not give another runner his bib. They even could have denied him a medal. But if he had been able to cross the finish line, there would have been an opportunity to sort things out and make a final determination after everything was cleared up.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Uh, based on the gist of this article… I guess it’s not only us here yanks who have an effed up criminal justice system.

    Shame on London, and shame on the London Marathon.

  2. Strange and unbalanced article. Feels like the writer has no clue what he is talking about. He tries to make a story

  3. Interesting article. It sure seems that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and that there are bigger unpunished scofflaws out there. I suppose the homeless are a great target. They don’t vote and they lack legal support. So you can go after them and claim righteousness.

  4. The article seems balanced in that the gist is to point out the imbalance in the way the London Marathon seems to handle bandits/cheaters. Seems also that Mr. Skupian was in more trouble than just jumping into the London Marathon and the author is merely reporting on the overall situation as opposed to making a story.

Comments are closed.