Maude Gorman – An Admission, an Apology and an Attempt To Move Forward

Maude Gorman is the rare example of someone who has owned her behavior, apologized, and looking to move forward.

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It is rare when someone admits to cheating at a race. It is far more common for people to try to bury the accusations by shutting down their social media by deleting negative comments and blocking those that ask questions.

Sometimes they deny what is obvious. They fake GPS data, or they claim that they unknowingly cut the course. They claim that my articles are false but offer no evidence to back up their claims.

So, when someone apologizes and admits to cheating, I think it is my responsibility to report on that as publicly as I report on those that offer up fake data or other lies. In the case of Maude Gorman, I should have written about her admission earlier.

Maude Gorman

I wrote two articles about Maude. It initially came out that she cut the course at The Pineland Farms Trail Challenge, where she claimed 2nd place. She was later disqualified from two other races, where she had claimed 1st and 2nd place finishes.

Had she denied the cheating or faked GPS data I would have written more. She did neither of those things. She admitted to cheating, and she apologized.

She apologized on Instagram back in August, a couple of weeks after her cheating became public. In that post she admitted to not running the entire course at The East End Trail race and apologized to the competitors and Race Director.

Recently, in another Instagram post she wrote about all she has lost as a result of cheating and the publicity. She again admitted that she has cheated in ultras.

Guess who started running again? And guess who doesn’t care about any of the negative things you may have to say about it?! THIS GIRL 🙋🏼‍♀️ I haven’t ran since August, which is hard to even fathom considering running is my life, and what keeps my mind (and body) healthy. BUT, mistakes were made during my last season, and it felt as though I lost everything. I lost sponsors, I lost speaking engagements, I lost my spot on Team USA. But perhaps worst of all, losing running was like losing a part of myself. Until now, I’ve been too afraid to get back out there, too afraid to try again, and too afraid of what people might say or think. Honestly, I’m afraid even now just posting this, but maybe someone else who’s also made a mistake, who also knows what it’s like to really mess up, will find the courage to start again after seeing this; just as I have. The truth is, I never signed up for a race with the intention to cheat, I never started a race thinking I’d steal a podium. But, it happened, and I think I hated myself for it more than any hatred I received from others combined. Today, I choose to STOP hating myself, because there comes a point where you need to release the need to replay a negative situation over and over again in your mind. I will not become a hostage to my past, instead, I will learn from my mistakes, I will grow from them, and I will RUN!! 🏃🏼‍♀️ #FaceYourFailures#OwnYourMistakes

I commented on the admission in The Marathon Investigation Facebook Group. I wrote the following:

It’s rare when someone posts an admission to having cheated without making an excuse. Because it is so rare, I won’t judge the motivation, but will accept the admission at face value and wish the runner luck going forward, while knowing that future results will be subject to scrutiny.

I reached out to Maude, and she wished to share this additional statement:

I will say one thing…and that is how sorry I am something like this ever happened. I’ve done my best to take full responsibility of my actions, and hope one day others can find peace with the mistakes I’ve made. Rather than speak of any excuses or explanations, I would prefer to offer my sincerest apologies to all involved.

In further conversation with Maude, she did confirm that her apology extends to everyone affected at all of the races, she admits that she did not complete the full distances at each of the races mentioned in my original articles – Pineland Farms, East End Trail Race, and F.I.T. Challenge, and her apology extends to all those affected by her behavior at those races.

Summary

I am not excusing Maude’s behavior in the races. Any sponsorships that she lost were deserved. Any sanctions from the races were appropriate. She was rightfully removed from The U.S.A. Skyrunning team. If she chooses to race again, her results will be scrutinized.

I am very harsh on those that offer excuses and refuse to admit when they cheat by either falsifying data or coming up with unbelievable excuses. As such, I don’t think it’s appropriate to scrutinize every word of an apology.

We can easily say that Maude is only apologizing because she was caught. That may be true, but the much higher percentage of runners that are caught chose not to admit fault and accept blame. I will give Maude credit for taking responsibility and I support her in her attempt to move forward.

If we criticize those who admit guilt as harshly as we criticize those that fake data and continue to lie, how can we expect anyone to come clean and apologize?

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28 COMMENTS

  1. I’m glad she came clean and apologized. I like to believe the running community to be just as forgiving as they are when demanding evidence of not cheating. It is refreshing to see someone admit it and, like we all seem to comment “just admit, quit digging and we will forgive and let it go”, we need to now to put feet to those types of comments, walk away and quit continuing to throw this up in her face or say her apology wasn’t enough and actually do what we say we will do and also move on. We all make mistakes and hope that people can let us move on gracefully. As a running community, let’s let her move on gracefully and get her life back. This will always be in her past, but we can stop reminding her of it starting now.

    • I disagree with you here. She only came clean after months of losing her bread and butter – speaking engagements, etc… Derek misses that her August “apology” was selective at best and left out several races where she cheated. Worse, she spent most of August deleting all of her social media profiles and covering up the cheating. Simply put, she has lost enough that now she recognizes her only path to recovery is to prey on people who will just ‘put this behind her.’ She will cheat again. She will lie again.

  2. Great to hear. Everyone makes mistakes in life, but those mistakes only make a positive impact when they are acknowledged. Glad to see that Maude is turning a corner and getting back to doing what we all love to do: run!

  3. There is a difference between a person who does a bad thing, and a bad person. The former owns his/her actions, learns from them, and moves forward. I hope she (and all of us) can be in that group.

  4. Those that can accept responsibility and move onward are easily welcomed back in my eyes. We make mistakes as human beings and how we handle those mistakes shapes us. Water under the bridge now, just get out and have fun.

  5. I hope Maude starts to enjoy running for enjoyment and well being. I respect her for engaging in sensible dialogue with Derek and hopefully she can recover from this harsh life lesson.

    In reflection it does seems so incredibly naive. I can only shudder to think how she felt, uncomfortably stood on podiums next to other women she cheated out of higher prizes. Other women who were probably thinking something wasn’t quite right and Maude picking up on the awkward vibe. It’s enough to make wince. So incredibly audacious, but the truth was always going to come out.

    It’s a trifle bizarre that Maude, in her admission, would be so sad at losing her USA Skyrunner place, did she fail to grasp that her selection was built from the podium finishes in races she cheated in?!

    It’s interesting that only when Derek directly asked about the other races she cheated in, did she finally admit the scope of her dishonesty. From Maude’s recent Instagram post, the extent of her cheating is a bit ambiguous, it could almost be interpreted as a one-off, spur of the moment event when in reality it was repeated behaviour.

    I’ve found the whole saga fascinating. Good luck Maude, but no more races (at least for a few years:).

  6. “mistakes were made during my last season”, “it happened”, “SOMETHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED.”
    vs
    “I lost sponsors, I lost speaking engagements, I lost my spot on Team USA.”

    Small semantic difference, but I’m not buying it. I think shes sorry she got caught, she missed running, and she wanted to put a positive spin on things. How brave she is to share on her Instagram that she will no longer hate herself for the cheating that “happened.” This comes after a decline to comment when she first got caught (per the first article Derek wrote).

    Also, I think theres an interesting interplay here with social media (posting on social media that you don’t care what people think about you on social media…). The need for SM validation seems to run deep here, and I think its what motivated her cheating to begin with, at least in part.

  7. I’ll actually cheer her on and hope that she get back on track (with her ultra ambitions). Thank you, Derek.

  8. I agree with all of the above. Thank you for biting the bullet and apologizing for your mistakes, Maude. That’s all that we want to see here, is contrition. As we’ve said before, we’re a forgiving community. Welcome back. And yes, getting back to running helps… everyone.

  9. Look at the wording she uses. “it happened” – “mistakes were made” – I’m sorry that “this happened”. All the talk of what she ‘lost’ with no mention of what others lost due to her actions.

    Her follow-up statement to Derek is closer, but sorry, I don’t think she’s really taken responsibility for her actions.

    • Context is key:

      “it happened” – she cheated (“I never signed up for a race with the intention to cheat…”)
      “mistakes were made” – she cheated
      “this happened” – she cheated

      Maybe if you read the apology with some charity instead of an overwhelming sentiment of dubiety you would have come to a better conclusion. It does not appear, based on a more altruistic reading, that she’s dodging any responsibility.

    • Exactly, Wattsup. She was just a victim of “what happened.” She can’t take “full responsibility” until she takes full responsibility.

      • If the passive voice enables her to admit her cheating and move forward in a positive direction, the result is not terrible.

      • She took full responsibility back in August when she admitted that she cheated, told her followers how she cheated, and apologized to the RD.

        This IG post was not intended to be an apology, but to let her followers know that’s she’s back running, that’s she’s made mistakes, but that she’s dealt with them and is moving onward and upward.

        Why do you (Vaca and WattsUp) feel like you get to set an arbitrary bar that people need to meet in order for your precious, fragile feelings to be satiated? Especially when she has already done what your criticizing (i.e., taken full responsibility, used the active voice, and did not victimize herself)?

        • Art, I submit to you that you “set the arbitrary bar.” She didn’t take responsibility, she distanced herself as far as she could without saying she didn’t do it.

          If you say you are going to take responsibility, take responsibility.
          “You Honor, the bank was robbed,” is not an admission of guilt.

  10. People should “be at peace with my mistakes”. “I’m going to stop hating myself”. “I won’t be hostage to my past”.

    This is a non-apology apology that negates any apology aspect by basically making the whole post / statement about her.

    • In fairness, anyone who goes against the standard cheater practice of denying everything and lashing out at their accusers deserves some credit, I don’t really agree with forced apologies that follow a script that people want to hear.

    • I fell like if she had made the entire apology about other people then WattsUp would criticize the apology for not being enough about her and what she did. Is any apology good enough for your holier-than-thou standards, WattsUp?

    • This is a bit harsh WattsUp, I understand the point you are trying to make but think about what she wrote … those are tough words to write regardless of what she did and I think she deserves a lot of credit for accepting responsibility. Yes it was all her fault but it sounds like she’s faced some pretty heavy consequences for her actions and I think it’s time for forgiveness. I would welcome her back and I hope she gets back out there and gets herself back into a good place.

  11. I’m glad she admitted she cheated and tried to take responsibility for her actions, but her apology falls short. Her cheating didn’t “happen.” She cheated. Until she admits that to herself and to others, I dint think her apology is real and sincere.

  12. It’s great that she admitted fault and is running again. That will help address the harm she did to herself and to others.

    It’s appropriate, not self-righteous, to reflect on what she wrote. She chose the words carefully, and they give insight into her character. She uses passive voice, as though she was an observer. (“Mistakes were made,” “it happened,” she is sorry that something like this “ever happened.”) That’s unfortunate but understandable, maybe even subconscious. It feels better to say, “mistakes were made,” instead of, “I made a mistake.” She focuses on the consequences she suffered, not the harm to others. (“I lost everything. I lost sponsors, I lost speaking engagements, I lost my spot on Team USA.”) Again, understandable but reflects her focus on herself. A lot’s been written on Stephen Glass and how long it took him to see beyond what his actions cost him to what they cost others.

    Hope that she can get more joy out of running and even competing going forward, knowing that she’s doing it with integrity.

  13. I’ve often said one of the most empowering things to do is “to completely screw something up and then take total responsibility for it.” People are so unused to it that they are bowled over with shock.

    There is a difference between negligence (screwing up) and malicious negligence (intending to screw up or cheat), but she has taken the step to making amends…so good for her.

    Some guy much smarter/wiser/kinder than I said ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

    Welcome back Maude, but fair warning….your actions will speak louder than words.

  14. Like Wattsup, I don’t like the passive voice, either. I wouldn’t say it’s a non-apology, just not a stellar example. (To be fair, does she even have a good example to draw on? I doubt her language skills are all that great to begin with.) A more contrite, rather than defiant, tone would have suited her better, but she did her best and deserves credit there. I would love to hear more about why she did it.

  15. Read David Brooks in the NY Times this week about the “Call Out Culture.” The post quoted above is not her first or only apology. To those who aren’t satisfied, I’ll just quote my deceased aunt, “Who died and left you king?” She said sorry, it just doesn’t get better than that. She’s been judged for her actions, punished, swallowed her pride, apologized, and is returning to running. I would run with her. Running is more fun than judging. I judge that some people are too judgey. Go Maude, I hope you find your passion for running again.

    • See also: “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haight. They have huge criticisms of the “call out culture,” much of which is reflected by the type of people that Scott has negative things to say about on the podcast (i.e., trolling, online bullying, etc.).

  16. Fair enough. There are few master classes on how to apologise. The public accept far worse apologies from politicians and so called stars every day. Good luck Maude.

  17. Nitpicking someone’s wording of an apology is a waste of time. IMHO, she admitted she cheated and is looking to move on. What this woman does from here on forward is more indicative of whether she has truly accepted responsibility, not whether she used “active vs passive voice” in her statement.

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