British ultra marathon ‘cheat’ who was banned from sport after using a car to skip 2.5miles mid-race breaks her silence, saying ‘we all make mistakes which we must live with’
- Joasia Zakrzewski admitted travelling in her friend’s car for 2.5 miles of the route
- She posted on Facebook ‘we all make mistakes which we must live with’
The British ultra marathon ‘cheat’ who was banned from the sport after using a car to skip 2.5miles of a race has broken her silence, saying ‘we all make mistakes which we must live with’.
Joasia Zakrzewski admitted she travelled in her friend’s car for part of the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool event.
The 47-year-old claimed she hurt her leg halfway through and instead of pulling out, she was encouraged to finish the race in a ‘non-competitive way’.
However, when she finished in third place, she still accepted a medal and a third-place wooden trophy – much to the fury of her rivals.
Now she has said ‘we all make mistakes which we must live with’ and thanked her friends for their ‘support and belief’ in her.
Joasia Zakrzewski admitted she travelled in her friend’s car for part of the event
Dr Zakrzewski, a long-distance runner, had previously represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
The 47-year-old claimed she hurt her leg halfway through and instead of pulling out, she was encouraged to finish the race in a ‘non-competitive way’
Examination of tracking data showed she had covered around two and a half miles of the route by car – gaining as much as 25 minutes
Posting on Facebook today, she said: ‘As you all know, this has been a tough year in many ways.
‘We all make mistakes which we must live with for the rest of our lives and I’m sorry to say that I did that earlier this year.
READ MORE – ‘Cheating’ ultramarathon runner who broke four records in Australia apologises for using a car during a race – after she accepted a trophy
‘I’d like to thank my friends for all their support and belief in me – onwards and upwards!’
The ‘cheating’ scandal comes less than three years after Zakrzewski made international headlines when she broke four records in Australia.
She also finished 14th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon and set a new world 48-hour distance record of 255.668 miles in February,
But examination of tracking data of the 2023 race showed she had covered around two and a half miles of the route by car – potentially gaining as much as 25 minutes.
In addition, it showed she followed the main road rather than the race route for part of the event. She is understood to have covered a mile of the race in just one minute 40 seconds, and was unceremoniously disqualified.
The medal for the third-placed woman was instead awarded to NHS podiatrist Mel Sykes, who took to Twitter to slam her shamed rival as a ‘cheat’.
But examination of tracking data of the 2023 race showed she had covered around two and a half miles of the route by car – potentially gaining as much as 25 minutes
Pictured: Dr Zakrzewski running at an ultra-trail event in Norway in 2016
Race data uploaded to the sports app Strava by Dr Zakrzewski and shared on Twitter by Mel Sykes, the runner who was given her third-place medal, allegedly revealed she ‘hadn’t taken the race route’
Zakrzewski said she had returned the medal and trophy and apologised to fellow runner Mel Sykes, who has since been awarded third place.
Sykes weighed into the saga to express her anger and slam her rival in a series of tweets.
‘Great news for me but really bad news for sportsmanship,’ she wrote.
‘The below happened because a fellow competitor cheated. After an investigation, she has now been DQ’d, and rightly so.
‘No race director wants this to happen at one of their events and the team at GB Ultras have been fantastic at carrying out their investigation.
‘The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p**s out of the race organisers, fellow competitors and fair sport.
‘How can someone who knows they have cheated cross a finish line, collect a medal/trophy and have their photos taken!’
Zakrzewski is understood to have been caught cheating after tracking information showed she attained a ‘super-human’ top speed of 35mph – far faster than Usain Bolt at his best.
Zakrzewski, (left) was disqualified from the 50-mile Manchester to Liverpool ultra-marathon
The runner posted on Facebook today, saying ‘we all make mistakes’
Just weeks earlier she smashed the world record for the most miles run by a woman in 48 hours.
In July 2020, Zakrzewski smashed the national Scottish record by finishing second in the Canberra 24-Hour track event.
The performance took her to fifth place on the UK all-time list for 24-hour running.
She also broke three other significant time or distance records en route to her remarkable 24-hour feat.
READ MORE – British ultra-marathon star is banned for a year after she jumped into a car mid-race to skip 2.5 miles of a race (and she still only finished third!)
The Scottish GP had previously denied deliberately cheating but a UK Athletics disciplinary panel rejected her explanation and found her guilty of breaching their code of conduct for senior athletes, handing her a 12-month suspension.
The panel said Zakrzewski’s submission was ‘contrary to the evidence of the marshals, evidence which the respondent did not seek to challenge or contest, by way of cross-examination at the hearing’.
They added: ‘Further, 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.’
After starting out as a race doctor, Dr Zakrzewski took up extreme running herself, setting a string of records.
Her feats culminated in covering a record 255 miles at Taiwan’s Taipei Ultramarathon in February – although the result only stood for a month before being destroyed by an American rival.
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