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UPDATED: 'Biggest Loser' issues a marathon apology for misleading viewers

February 27, 2009 |  1:10 pm

Dane It was an inspiring finish to this week's two-part episode of NBC's "The Biggest Loser": Dane, who lost 100 pounds in just eight weeks before being eliminated from the weight-loss competition, is seen running a marathon alongside his fit-and-trim wife and crossing the finish line in what appears to be an eye-popping time of three hours and 53 minutes.

Only it didn't happen. Dane got himself an assist to the finish line courtesy of a field producer. UPDATED: Here's the statement Dane released late Friday:

"I always intended to run the full marathon. At the 17th mile, I knew I would not make it in time to cross the finish line before it closed at 6 hours, so I then received a ride from the field producer, who wanted to show me crossing the finish line. He drove me for three miles, and then I ran the rest of the way. After all the filming was done I went back and finished the last 3 miles later that day with my wife and cousin Blaine. I apologize for stating that I ran the entire marathon before I actually ran the whole 26 miles. I am proud of the feat of just running 26 miles in one day."

Here's the statement issued earlier in the day by Reveille, one of the show's producers:

As the Executive Producers of The Biggest Loser we would like to make an official apology and set the record straight with regards to the claim in last nights episode that Dane completed a marathon in Arizona.

After seeing on various online blogs that this information may be inaccurate we investigated the claim and found that Dane had not indeed completed the marathon unaided. From our internal investigation we learned that Dane ran the first 17 miles before receiving a ride from the field producer for 3 miles before rejoining the race at the 20 mile mark whereupon he completed the race.

We are incredibly proud of Dane for running 23 miles and losing over 130 lbs on his weight loss journey so far and wish him luck as he continues his new healthy lifestyle. We have also taken the necessary action to ensure that there is no future misrepresentations and sincerely apologize for misleading our loyal viewers and it was certainly not our intent but an unwitting mistake.

We hope they will continue to be inspired and motivated by all of our contestants and follow them as they continue to change their lives.

Here's NBC's statement:

In the final segment of last night's episode of “The Biggest Loser,” which updated viewers on the status of an eliminated contestant, the former contestant was shown running a marathon in his home state of Arizona. NBC today learned that the contestant did not, in fact, run the entire marathon as depicted in the segment. Because the segment as aired was contrary to NBC policy, we are working with the program producers to determine how this occurred, and to ensure that corrective action is taken.

Sources close to the production said this is what happened:

Dane was eliminated on Thursday night’s show, kicked off by fellow contestants who believed –— rightly — that he was one of the front-runners to win the $250,000 prize that will be handed out to the person who loses the largest percentage of his or her body weight. As is customary, the epilogue to the elimination is a segment in which the cameras catch up with the contestant today, to see whether the weight loss is continuing at home.

Dane’s epilogue was, seemingly, one of the most inspirational in recent memory when it was announced that he’d been training for and had completed a marathon.

But it turns out that an overeager field producer who was following Dane on race day realized that "The Biggest Loser" contestant would not finish the marathon by the six-hour cutoff time, which in turn meant that the producer would not get the footage of Dane crossing the finish line in personal victory. So the field producer picked Dane up in a vehicle and then dropped him a few miles closer to the finish. While the finish time in the background appeared to be 3:53, it was actually 5:53 — the descrepancy being caused by some bum lightbulbs on the time clock that made the 5 appear to be a 3, the source said.

The source also said Dane was so upset that he accepted the ride and didn't run the full distance that he went back later in the day — with his cousin Blaine, who was also with him on the show — and ran the missing miles so that he could say he did indeed run 26.2 miles.

The source said the fabrication came to NBC's attention after that apparent sub-four-hour finish time — an enviable pace for even an experienced runner — set off alarm bells in many corners, including among other runners in the marathon, and the blogosphere began buzzing about whether such a pace was possible for a big guy like Dane. (Kudos to TVBarn.com, which did a great job of covering the unfolding story with the tart headline, "The Biggest Loser" — or is that "Biggest Liar"? — fabricates account of contestant finishing marathon).

The traditional morning-after conference call with the week's eliminated contestant — in this case, Dane — was abruptly canceled.

NBC has rescheduled the conference call for Monday.

Another source close to "The Biggest Loser" said there was a feeling of sadness because the show "relies on its integrity" in a world where reality programming is often suspect, and this person hoped this didn't overshadow Dane's accomplishments. "Dane is such a nice guy," the source said.

It was unclear what, if anything, will happen to the field producer.

In the meantime, what do you think about this development? Does this hurt the show's credibility?

— Rene Lynch

Photo credit: NBC Universal

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