British ultra marathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski has been slapped with a 12-month ban by UK Athletics for using a car in a race.
Zakrzewski finished third in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race in April and accepted a medal and trophy for her efforts.
But the competitor was later exposed when GPS data hinted that she had travelled by car, at an inhumane pace of around one kilometre per minute, for about four kilometres, before resuming the race by foot.
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The Scottish runner called herself an “idiot” for the incident, but claimed she told race officials that she was was withdrawing from the race when she used the car “in a non-competitive way”, blaming it all on a miscommunication.
“The claimant had collected the trophy at the end of the race, something which she should have not done if she was completing the race on a non-competitive basis,” an independent disciplinary panel said.
“She also did not seek to return the trophy in the week following the race.
“Even if she was suffering from brain fog on the day of the race, she had a week following the race to realise her actions and return the trophy, which she did not do.
“Finally, she posted about the race on social media, and this did not disclose that she had completed the race on a non-competitive basis.”
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Joasia Zakrzewski from Scotland competing in the first ever The Arctic Triple – Lofoten Ultra-Trail in Norway. Credit: Kai-Otto Melau/Getty Images
Zakrzewski wrote to the panel in a letter submitted in the aftermath of the revelation.
“I accept my actions on the day that I did travel in a car and then later completed the run, crossing the finish line and inappropriately receiving a medal and trophy, which I did not return immediately as I should have done,” she said.
A friend of the 47-year-old’s said she “felt sick and tired during the race and wanted to take off”, but apparently changed her mind.
Race director Dwayne Drinkwater said Zakrzewski made no effort to come clean on her secret.
“After the event, there was no attempt by Joasia to make us aware of what had happened and to give us an opportunity to correct the results or return the third place trophy during the course of the subsequent seven days,” he said.
The ultramarathon runner from Dumfries in Scotland — who is also a doctor, and had been a race doctor, too, before taking up the sport — now resides near Sydney, and claimed she was unable to think straight after arriving from Australia the night before, which had been the reason she wrongly accepted the medal and trophy.
Her excuse was dismissed by the panel.
Zakrzewski has raced for Great Britain in the International Association of Ultrarunners’ World 100km Championships, winning silver and bronze medals between 2011 and 2015 in three different races.
She also won the Taipei Ultramarathon in February, a gruelling 48-hour race, and set a world record at the time of 411.5 kilometres.
Other accolades in the Scott’s career include winning a 24-hour run in Australia in 2020 with a distance of 236.65km, and holding records for the Scottish 24-hour, the British 200km and the Scottish 100 mile.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Zakrzewski finished 14th in the marathon.
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