Comrades bans 25 athletes for supplying false information

At least 25 athletes have been disqualified from the Comrades Marathon for submitting false information to qualify, the Sowetan reports.

Comrades Marathon Association director Rowyn James said the athletes would be suspended from entering the 2024 and 2025 races as a sanction. 

“They have been disqualified from this Sunday’s 96th Comrades Marathon after it was found that they had supplied false qualifying information,” said James. 

He said the cheating runners were tarnishing the reputation of the sport. 

“Runners found to have been cheating in any way – be it via submitting false qualifying details or in the race itself – are tarnishing the reputation of the sport and the Comrades Marathon as well as disrespecting fellow athletes,” he said. 

The association has announced the suspension of these 25 entrants who are members of various clubs including Phuma KZN AC, Protea Striders, Save Orion AC, Sasolburg AC, Celtic Harriers, Chillie Running Club CG, Chiltern AC, Collegians Harriers, Diepkloof AC, Irene Athletics Club, Jozi X Training, Run Walk For Life NWN, Run Zone AC, SAPG AC, Sunward Striders AC, Team Vitality Club KZN, Thorn Tree Striders, Top Runner AC and Woodview AC.  

“These transgressors will not be permitted to participate in the 2023 Comrades Marathon and the CMA has also notified the respective athletes and their running clubs management of the disqualifications. 

“It is incumbent upon every athlete to honour the ethical code and ethos of the sport. We promote fair sport and to this end are continuing with investigations into other alleged transgressors, the outcome of which will be announced in due course,” he explained. 

James said one of the ways runners use when cheating was by getting other people to run their qualifiers for them or claim to have participated in a race before and submitting a deceiving running time.  

James also added that there were several ways they picked up on cheats. 

“When a runner submits their qualifying times, we check the details that they submit with their entry in the Comrades. For example, if I say I ran a 4-hour 26 seconds marathon at the Benoni Marathon, then I will go check with the Benoni Marathon’s results see whether the athlete did run a 4-26 time,” said James. 

He said the association often got tip-offs from other races or runners.  

James also highlighted that this was the highest number of athletes they have caught so far and said there had been an increase of this trend. 

“This is why we want to make a statement this year, that cheating is not worth it and that you will get caught. It’s also disrespectful to other fellow runners who do it in a legitimate manner,” he added.  

He said it’s getting worse and that there is no way to pinpoint why athletes cheat. 

“I think also Comrades is a prestigious event that everybody or many people aspire to do or want to do that some people don’t have the athletic capability to do it but still want to be part of it. So, I think that could be one of the reasons for people to potentially cheat but it’s difficult to say because I think you really need to look at the individual aspect to really determine what prompts them to do that,” he said. 

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