Drugs and Money.

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Liliya Shobukhova Russia 2:25:56
Liliya Shobukhova Russia 2:20:25
Liliya Shobukhova Russia 2:18:20
Atsede Baysa Ethiopia 2:22:03
Rita Jeptoo Kenya 2:19:57
Rita Jeptoo Kenya 2:24:35

This is a list of the last six Chicago Marathon winners. Technically, Shobukhova is still in the appeals process and Jeptoo is awaiting the results on her “B” sample. Regardless, I’d say we have a problem.

However, it gets even better. A recent story in L’Equipe suggests three-time winner Liliya Shobukhova paid the Russian track federation more than $600,000 to avoid a doping suspension. Eventually, they suspended her anyways and she asked for her bribe back. Thus far, she has received about $400,000 back.

As you can imagine, reclaiming prize money isn’t very easy. Nick Bitel, CEO of the London Marathon and general counsel for World Marathon Majors stated:

“If Liliya Shobukhova’s results are expunged, then, she would be liable to repay her prize money and the London Marathon could take legal action to recover the same, although there would be the usual difficulties of recovering money in an overseas jurisdiction.”

Expunged results have not led to higher payouts for clean athletes. This is likely due to IAAF rule 40.8, which says:

“[Prize money] shall be re-allocated to the athlete(s) who placed behind the ineligible athlete in the relevant event(s) or competition(s) only if and when all the forfeited prize money has been repaid by the ineligble athlete to the relevant person or entity.”

So what can be done? The World Marathon Majors recently suggested it’s payout ($500,000) could be distributed in installments. Other ideas:

– races could obtain doping insurance to ensure that clean athletes are paid the appropriate amounts
– races could work with respective countries to ensure there is a method for recovering fraudulently-obtained prize money
– lifetime bans, even for first-time offenders
– eliminate all doping rules

What do you think is the best way to handle this situation?

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6 Responses to Drugs and Money.

  1. OmniRunner says:

    life time bans that get enforced. Maybe if they reduced the prize money there would be less incentive to cheat.

  2. songbird128 says:

    I think the races should make the winners take a doping test “before” the can receive their winnings. Then there wouldn’t be a need to try and get the money back.

  3. FLRunnerBoy says:

    I think the violators should have there race results stripped from the record books and at least 50% of there winning paid to the second place/actual winner. Also, a minimum of a two year ban after which the violator would have to request reinstatement before a panel.

  4. Although I understand that there are difficulties in getting the money back, I view accepting prize money as a contract of sorts not unlike signing up to serve in the military or to practice medicine in a low-resource area in exchange for tuition or loan reimbursement. In both of those cases, it is very clear when you accept the award that if you do not fulfill the terms of the contract, you owe all of the money back. It seems that in accepting prize money, a similarly simple contract could exist. Don’t cheat? Money is yours. Cheat and get caught eventually? You have to pay it back.

  5. Shawna says:

    wow. that’s ridiculous and so much money. so sad that this is even an issue.

  6. Yikes, this is disappointing.

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