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

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

 
Comments () | Archives (205)

Come on people, GET OVER IT!!! The show is an inspiration, seeing these huge people with these disorders changing their lives forever. It is also an inspiration to many people that are now getting themselves healthy and their children. Yes it was a mistake but seriously it was just a follow up segment and does it really matter how long it took him to finish? No, the point is he did it, oh and when you go on a reality show, you do have to sign contracts, he needed to finish the segment, the important thing is that he went back and got it done. If your a runner and this is an insult to you, your anal, get over it!!!!!

It would have been far more inspirational if he had just kept on going and finished over the 6 hour mark. The six hour mark is so arbitrary anyway, and for someone to have lost 130 pounds and "run" a marathon in any time is an inspirational feat. It would have shown others in the a similar situation that the goal is losing weight, becoming healthy, and leading an active lifestyle. All that we saw from the phony finish is that it's all right to cheat if you don't get caught. What a terrible message for a parent to send.

I don't see what it hurt for it to seem like he had ran the whole thing..besides he didn't look like he's lost anything since the ranch..

Cheating like this is very disappointing and I would have to agree with those that said a finish past the official time would have been more inspiring.
I have finished a marathon and I've also cheered for friends running - it is very hard to keep going when there is no one left cheering or running. I would imagine it's even harder when the markers and barriers are already being removed because the finish line is closed. At that point, finishing becomes a mental game in addition to the physical challenge. Heads off to anyone that finishes, no matter what time. I have more respect for the runner I ended up riding along side after my friends had long finished to show him where the official route had been. He had the will to finish regardless of an official result within the cut off.

This turn of events isn't surprising. When my husband and I watched Dane's after story, the first thing we said was "wow that's an amazing finish time."

Then I thought "wait, that means he ran an 8:55 minute pace for 26 miles at what appears to be 300 lbs. That doesn't add up."

As a runner, there's no shame in a DNF (did not finish), although it's definitely discouraging.

There is tremendous shame in a false finish - does anyone recall Rosie Ruiz and her fake Boston Marathon "win?"

As to Dane's DNF - well, there's culpability on all sides.
- Dane shouldn't have allowed the producers to characterize his "finish" in the manner they did. He knew he didn't do it. He cheated for the cameras.
- The field producer exhibited extremely poor judgment and unimaginative story-telling. As fit4life says, a post 6 hour finish would have been so much more compelling and realistic. Perhaps that field producer should think about another career?
- The network published this falsehood. To their credit it looks like once the true nature of the situation became public, they came clean. Where are the fact checkers?

I think it is easy for American's to cast stones. Why not? We do it in every venue of our culture. I think what you fail to take into consideration is simple...If you have not bee on the show you have no clue what you would do. How many people understand how a show works. If you watched the show Dane actually didnt say much until Blaine was gone. Dane never once acted without ethics on the show, in this situatution it may be that he was just doing what he was told to do, and in television situations that is how it works. It speaks volumes that he went back and finished the race. Maybe some of you are right he needs to go back and rerun it but he did finish.
I suggest people get something better to do with their lives than constantly looking for the conspiracy theiry. THere was a mistake made here, it doesn't change the shows hard work, the way it has helped people lose weight, the way it has helped feed millions of Americans suffering in this hard time, or how it is helping raise land fill awareness regarding water bottles. Sometimes I am sorry is supposed to be good enough, stop pretending you are perfect.

This still doesn't make sense. Even if Dane was driven for three miles, it would still have him running 23 miles in 3:53.....me says no way. If that was the case, he could have EASILY walked the remaining 3 miles in time for the 6 hour cutoff.

Fraud!

what a total LOSER!!! how can you possibly claim to complete a marathon by getting a "ride" at mile 17 and then finishing the last 6 miles, only to go back "later in the day" to finish the last 3. he didn't even complete a marathon then, since it is 26.2, NOT 26!!!

as an avid marathoner, I am disgusted by NBC's blatant lying AND dane's coercion in going along with it.

I'm never watching biggest loser again.

Doesn't matter how much he ran. The point is that he did run some. Even if he just ran one mile is a great task. Go Dane and don't look back

I'm not upset by this info; hey, the guy has done AWESOME. I really do believe it was an honest mistake by the show, and it will not steer me away from watching it.

all american reality shows are scripted

Dane knew that he didn't finish but he took the credit anyway. SHAME on him....As for the show, it probally won't hurt them because the people watch for the inspiration and the trainers. Everyone knows that half the things like (crying and such) is just part of the show
the more dramatic the better the ratings!!!! Fire the guy that talked him into the 3 mile ride.....

Come on - leave the guy alone and the field guy as well. It's TV - things have to be done on time or they don't get covered. Who is so petty as to even notice the time? I think it's awesome that he ran more than a mile. I can't walk to the corner. He and the others on TBL are such inspirations to so many people that something like this is nothing. I will continue to watch the show and be amazed at the personal challenges these people overcome. This is a show about positivity not negativity - let's just see it as it is -- people who have been weight and health challenged most of their lives and who now have a chance at a new life - whether someone can run a marathon or not doesn't mean a thing to me - the fact that they try means everything.

what they did was wrong yes but again some is making to much out of it. i like the show and i like dane.the truth sould have been told yes i think that it would have been just as wonderful show him crossing the line in the dark. For those that r putting up all those comments remember those with out fault

Dane lost over 100 pounds and he's getting Healthy for himself and his family. We need to focus on the good thats happening in his life. Get over it people! There are more important issues going on around us that we need to be concerned about. Give him and the show a break...

I hope that field producer is fired. And quite frankly, I feel bad for Dane. How do you know he didn't want to finish the marathon on his own? I hate to break it to all you people who want to throw him under the bus and question his integrity, but every contestant on that show signs a contract. If a producer tells you to do something, you do it. If you try to buck the studio, they will make sure you pay for it.

After watching Dane on the show for the last several weeks, I think if it was his choice, he would have chosen to finish the marathon regardless of how much time it took him. But instead, NBC wanted to get their money shot, and he bowed under the pressure.

NBC missed the boat - this could have been one of the most exciting and inspirational moments in BL history. Dane should have stayed the course and finished in the dark if necessary. Way after the crowds had gone. They always say we have to do the work for ourselves. Not for the glory and not for others. This was to be his accomplishment to run a marathon. Time should not have been an issue - it was the distance that mattered. How many times do we cheer for the one who finished last and overcame incredible obstacles. There are no short cuts to accomplishing the task at hand.

As someone who's participated in races (never a full marathon) in the past, I understand how frustrated and cheated other race participants would feel about how NBC/Dane chose to handle the situation, and I agree that having Dane finish the race even after the 6 hour cut off would have likely been even more inspirational than seeing him finish on-time.

But I don't think anyone of us knows what it's like to have a bunch of cameras in our face and TV producers pushing us to do something that they think will make their show look better. I can't judge Dane for making the choice he did because I wasn't in his position. I can only imagine the kind of pressure being placed on him, and I imagine it wouldn't have been easy for me to tell them 'no' either.

I think that it would definitely have been the most inspirational thing to see Dane crossing the finishing lne despite the fact that he couldn't make it in the alloted time, and despite the fact that the marathon was being "packed up". This would have shown such determination and perserverance that one couldn't help but be inspired. NBC needs to terminate this producer for his deception and questionable ethics. Asfar as Dane goes...I think that loyal viewers and other marathon participants need an actual sincere apology. I wonder what his trainer on the show, Jillian, has to say about this.

That producer is wholly at fault here. You got to remember the show is dealing with all these overweight people who have very low selfesteem issues and have been tempted many a time to make the wrong choices. I think if Dane was on the ranch, he would have never let anyone talk him into getting that ride. In my opinion, the producer's suggestion to give Dane the ride only solidified Dane's doubts about finishing the marathon. Shame on the producer for being so selfish.

 
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