Comrades Marathon Association bans cheating runners over fraudulent entries

Comrades Marathon Association bans cheating runners over fraudulent entries

In a shocking development, SABC Sport has learned that over 50 Comrades Marathon entrants will be banned from participating in the 2024 event due to fraudulent entry submissions.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has issued emails to these individuals, notifying them of their breach of competition regulations and that their entries will be refunded.

In addition, the CMA are imposing a ban on their scheduled participation in the 87km up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg scheduled for 9 June.

There seems to be a growing trend of athletes soliciting others to achieve the qualifying time of 4 hours and 50 minutes on their behalf – a practice CMA’s race and operations manager and 2018 Comrades champion Ann Ashworth expressed deep concern over.

“We’re confronted with a serious issue. There’s concerning behaviour that demands immediate action to prevent its recurrence – an athlete failing to participate in the qualifying race poses a significant risk for us at CMA," Ashworth explained to SABC Sport.

"We must arrange transportation to ensure they are carried at the cut-off stage, as in unfortunate circumstances, and they may require medical attention or even hospitalisation. 

"The purpose behind CMA’s establishment of qualifying times is to safeguard the well-being of runners, and the submission of fraudulent times jeopardises the integrity of the race. 

A total of 58 athletes have been identified by the CMA to have their entries rejected due to violations of race rules, with some of the letters sent to these athletes having been seen by the public broadcaster's sports desk.

The CMA lacks the authority to suspend athletes; its only recourse is to prevent them from participating and refund their registration fees. 

Following disciplinary procedures, the power to suspend athletes lies solely with the provincial bodies and Athletics South Africa (ASA).

"Sixteen athletes' entries were invalidated upon discovery that they solicited other athletes to run their 2023 qualifying marathon in their place," Ashworth expanded. 

"Additionally, three athletes' entries were revoked as they were found to have run a qualifying marathon on behalf of another entrant for the 2023 event. 

"Furthermore, twenty-seven other athletes were disqualified for submitting fraudulent qualifying information, falsely claiming achievements they did not accomplish – either by not finishing the race or participating. 

"One athlete even ran the 2023 race using another’s race number, while two athletes completed the race as a relay, aided by four other athletes who took multiple shortcuts between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. 

"We receive complaints every week. We took the required actions out of safety concerns, and we are fully within our rights to bar the athletes for these reasons."

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