I'm a little late to the party, but it looks like I have two more inductees into my Great Liars in Running Hall of Fame. Did you miss this post? Last year, I took to task those runners who printed copies of a woman's Boston marathon bib after she posted it on social media. I also found a few other runners and race organizers to keep those runners company. I've had a few other inductees since that original post. The candidates just keep on coming forward.
I'm going to put it out there: I despise cheaters. But my teenagers tell me that cheating is rampant in school these days. Tom Brady is letting the air out of footballs. FIFA officials are taking bribes and the St Louis Cardinals are hacking into the Houston Astros computer network. Cheating is everywhere, and why shouldn't amateur athletes be any different?
Everyone's doing it, right?
It's getting hard to be an honest athlete.
First up is Mike Rossi. You might remember him as that dad who posted a letter he sent to the principal of his kids school. Still doesn't ring a bell? He ran the Boston Marathon, and the school principal refused to excuse his kids' absences from school when they accompanied him on his trip. He wrote a really great letter, all about how they got all kinds of life experience traveling with him to Boston and watching him chase a life dream. This is the stuff that goes viral. And it did. I read it, and I was pretty impressed. Heck, I'd pull my kids out of school to accompany me to Boston, if I qualified. Even though my youngest recently asked me if he really had to go to Boston.
Unfortunately for Mr. Rossi, people scrutinized his self-righteousness. And they found something really interesting. It appears that maybe, just maybe, he didn't actually qualify for Boston. The race he ran was not consistent with any of his past race finish times. Race photos didn't show him in any photos except crossing the finish line. And there were no chip mats along the race to track his progress.
I've run races like that. Last year, when I ran that hot, steamy Zooma Chicago half marathon, there were no timing mats on the course. I could have turned around early and headed back to the finish line. No one would have been the wiser, right? I didn't do it, but I could have and salvaged what was my slowest half ever. Right. And live with the knowledge that I cheated?
I'm not saying Rossi did this. And since there was no proof that he cheated, the Boston Marathon didn't DQ him. He has to live with the knowledge that maybe or maybe not...he didn't actually qualify. His Boston finish time? 4:01:42. Way less than his 3:11:45 qualifying time.
|Rossi photo courtesy of phillymag.com|
Hope he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame/infamy. I wonder what his kids learned about all this?
When asked about this, she told race officials that she "removed" the timing strip from her race bib. Oh, ok then! We'll just go with your word on it then. You keep that $1500 prize.
Sarcasm aside, I've run a lot of races, and I've never taken the timing strip off my race bibs. Help me to understand why anyone would do that? Supposedly she wears the bib on her leg instead of her shirt, and maybe the strip makes it hard to attach the bib to her leg? You know, that pesky plastic makes the bib a little stiff. Hard to run with that wrapped around your leg. Especially if you're a super fast runner--those quads need to breathe.
I know people do this, put their bib on their leg, but you're really not supposed to do that anyways...but I digress...
|Schler photo courtesy of runhaven.com|
Ok, just for the sake of argument, let's say she's telling the truth and she won fair and square, sans timing chip. Then explain why, just like Rossi above, there were no race photos of Schler anywhere along the course. Race officials reviewed this year's photos, and nope, none except of Schler crossing the finish line. And when asked to provide photos, Schler could not.
So race officials contacted the Boston marathon, and Schler was disqualified from the race. A BQ and a DQ. You don't see that every day.
I get the desire to run Boston. The Boston Marathon really is the pinnacle of running for long distance runners. I'd love to qualify. But I couldn't run it knowing I cheated to get in. I couldn't live with myself. Heck, I couldn't even quit on my virtual half last weekend! But just say I get a BQ but I don't get in because a cheater qualified with a little better time than me and took my spot. Wouldn't that be horrible? For me it would...
Sadly, these stories are becoming more common, and I can't help but wonder if cheating is becoming more acceptable. The desire to win is so strong and the stakes are so high, it's no wonder athletes are pushing the limits. But we're amateur athletes. We're never going to win. We should be happy that we get to run. Our only competition should be ourselves. We need to set a good example for our children and young athletes. There's pride in a job well done, a race well run, fair and square. And that should be enough for all of us.
To Rossi and Schler, welcome to the Hall of Fame. Say hi to Rosie while you're there.