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Secret timing points set to expose course-cutting cheats at Comrades Marathon

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Published on
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An investigation into allegations of cheating at the recent Comrades Marathon is underway, the race organisers have announced.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) had underlined in the build-up to the 2024 event which took place on 9 June, that there would be a zero-tolerance approach towards cheating.

Before the event, over 50 runners were prevented from taking part due to fraudulent entry submissions, some of which involved getting others to achieve the required qualifying time.

The 86km ultramarathon alternates from an ‘up’ route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg – as it was this year – to a ‘down’ version in reverse.

Known as the ‘Ultimate Human Race’, it is hugely popular, with hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the route, national TV coverage, high prestige and big prizemoney.

This year there were 18,884 starters – and 17,313 finishers.

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Looking for ‘anomalies or inconsistencies’

But in a statement released on Thursday the CMA said: “The Office has received a number of tip-offs from concerned participants and spectators who have reported several instances of suspected cheating within the duration of the race.

“In addition, the CMA has continued to receive information from athletes and clubs regarding the submission of fraudulent qualifying information.

Ann Ashworth, the CMA Race & Operations Manager, stated that while she is aware of various social media posts allegedly exposing several athletes of cheating at the event, the CMA has yet to communicate the full and final results of its investigations to KwaZulu-Natal Athletics and has not yet publicly identified those athletes whom it suspects of cheating.

The statement continued: “We are currently working through the full set of electronic results provided to us by FinishTime with a view to identifying any anomalies or inconsistencies within the results.

“Our Office is also working through data which suggests that several athletes missed the non-disclosed (or secret) timing points along the route, the purpose of which was to identify runners who engaged in course cutting. All inconsistencies will then be compared to any photographic evidence available.”

Issue with first timing point

Ashworth has also indicated that the CMA is aware of a problem which occurred at the first timing point (at approximately 5km) and assures athletes that the absence of a timing reading at this particular point is not necessarily indicative of course cutting.

The statement concluded: “The CMA hopes to conclude its investigations over the next few days after which the names of all race day cheats will be provided to KwaZulu-Natal Athletics for disciplinary action.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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