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Third-place marathon runner disqualified for riding bus in race

October 12, 2011 | 10:43 am

Marathon_300Rob Sloan finished the Kielder Marathon near Newcastle, England, in third place with a personal-best time. He called the race "unbelievably tough" -- so tough, it turns out, that he had to take a bus part of the way.

About 20 miles into the race, Sloan got on a shuttle bus used by spectators, then got off in the woods near the finish line, which he crossed with a time of 2 hours, 51 minutes — 21 minutes faster than his previous best in the race.

Sloan initially labeled claims that he had cheated as "laughable" but later admitted riding the bus after an investigation by race organizers. He has been stripped of his third-place medal.

"People in cars following the bus saw him get on and off. People saw him run through the bushes — we had him hook, line and sinker," Dave Roberts, one of the marathon organizers, said Wednesday. "Rob was distraught at having to come clean."

Sloan had won a 10-kilometer race at the same location a day earlier and may simply ran out of stamina with six miles to go in the marathon, Roberts said.

"I'm convinced it was not premeditated," Roberts said. "But he felt rough, pulled out and flagged down a bus. It's as bad as drug-taking in my book because it's attempting to improve your performance by cheating. I've never known anything like it."

Sloan faces the possibility of being banned from marathons. He goes before a district committee this month.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: A scene from the 2010 Kielder Marathon. Credit: Salomon Insider / YouTube

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