Scottish runner Joasia Zakrzewski rode in a car for more than two miles during the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race in April
Scottish runner Joasia Zakrzewski will be unable to compete for 12 months after she got a ride in a car during an ultramarathon.
In April, Zakrzewski came in third place in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race, but she was later disqualified when it was discovered that she had used a car for more than two miles during the ultramarathon, the BBC reported.
On Oct. 9, a disciplinary panel brought together by UK Athletics sanctioned Zakrzewski as a result of her breach of the competition rules.
As a result of the panel’s findings, she has been banned from competition for 12 months, including any international events where she would represent Great Britain.
Zakrzewski is also barred from “coaching, officiating and managing” for 12 months, per the panel.
The sanctions were decided as a result of what the panel described as Zakrzewski’s extensive experience as an athlete at the “highest level,” as well as her prior experience as a team manager for the U.K.’s international team. She “had a responsibility to uphold the rules” which was made “even more serious” when she “breached” them and didn’t alert anyone.
During the April race, Zakrzewski told BBC that she experienced severe pain in her leg and accepted a ride in the car of a friend as a result. Suspicions arose because race-tracking data showed that she had traveled a mile in under two minutes.
An investigation later revealed that she had traveled more than two miles in the friend’s car, per the outlet.
In September, Zakrzewski told the panel in a statement that she did not contest any of the claims against her, which included that she completed part of the 50-mile race in a car and collected a trophy for third place.
“As stated, 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,” her statement said, per the documents.
Zakrzewski maintained, though, that she never had an intention to cheat or conceal the fact that she had completed part of the race in a car.
In April, she told the BBC, "When I got to the checkpoint I told them I was pulling out and that I had been in the car, and they said 'you will hate yourself if you stop.' "
She claimed that she had agreed to "carry on in a non-competitive way" and wanted to "make sure" not to "overtake the runner in front" of her.
She still accepted a medal and posed for photos after crossing the finish line, though, which she called "a massive error" because she felt "tired and jetlagged" after the race.
"I hold my hands up, I should have handed them back and not had pictures done but I was feeling unwell and spaced out and not thinking clearly," she added when speaking to the BBC.
According to the panel, Zakrzewski claimed in an interview that she “had told marshals that she had been in a friend’s car and when they encouraged her to continue she said that she would be non-competitive” in the race.
The marshals disputed her statements, per the panel’s findings.
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Third place was later awarded to Mel Sykes, to whom Zakrzewski said she wanted to apologize. "I'm an idiot and want to apologize to Mel," she told the BBC. "It wasn't malicious, it was miscommunication."
She added, "I would never purposefully cheat and this was not a target race, but I don't want to make excuses. Mel didn't get the glory at the finish and I'm really sorry she didn't get that."
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