Ultra-marathon runner banned for 12 months after using car in 50-mile race

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A Scottish ultra-marathon runner has been banned for 12 months by UK Athletics after admitting to using a car to complete part of a 50-mile race in which she finished third.

Joasia Zakrzewski, 47, was found to have cheated during the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race in April after her GPS data flagged up suspicious results.

Zakrzewski, who denied deliberately cheating, said she accepted a lift from a friend because she was injured and had told marshalls she was no longer competing.

The GP from Dumfries, who has represented Great Britain in ultrarunning events, said she then made a “massive error” after accepting the third-place trophy on the finish line.

Zakrzewski said she was feeling “unwell and spaced out” and her GPS tracking data later revealed she had covered a 2.5-mile stretch of the race in a car before continuing.

A UK Athletics disciplinary panel has now ruled that Zakrzewski’s claims were “contrary to the evidence of the marshals” and the former Commonwealth Games athlete has been banned from representing GB for a year.

The panel said: “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.

"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."

Zakrzewski did not admit to using a car after the race and it was only after her tracking data showed she had covered a one-split in under two minutes that organisers became suspicious.

In their written reasons, the panel said Zakrzewski “ultimately chose not to disclose what had happened rather than embarrass herself”.

Zakrzewski’s statement to the panel said: “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.”

Zakrzewski, who now lives in Australia, represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and finished 14th in the marathon. She holds numerous Scottish records in ultrarunning and in February set a new world 48-hour distance record of 255.668 miles.

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