RACE organisers say a red-faced Sunderland runner has admitted cheating after he was spotted jumping on a bus before finishing a marathon in third place.
Sunderland Harrier Rob Sloan, 31, disembarked just before the end of the Kielder Marathon and emerged from a wooded section of the course to rejoin the race and pick up the bronze medal.
But the runner, who just 24 hours earlier had won a 10K race, was spotted by a number of witnesses, and organisers were left with no alternative but to disqualify him after Sunday’s event.
Sloan, of Downhill, Sunderland, initially denied that he cheated, saying “I ran the whole race” but organisers say he has now admitted his guilt.
Suspicions were raised after a number of runners reported being bemused by Sloan’s third place after they failed to see him pass them during the race.
A statement from the organisers of the Salomon Kielder Marathon said: “Last night we confirmed that the athlete who was disqualified on Sunday, after initially placing third, has admitted that he failed to complete the whole course of 26.2 miles.
“Rob Sloan of Sunderland Harriers had apparently made the decision to withdraw from the race at approximately 20 miles due to fatigue and after returning to the Leaplish Park area he decided to run the closing section of the course and crossed the finish line in third place.
“This was rightly questioned by several witnesses including the rightful third place finisher Steven Cairns of Peebles, Scotland, who has been awarded his prize.”
Sloan, a former army mechanic, has only been a member of Sunderland Harriers for the past few months.
Kielder Marathon director Steve Cram, who is chancellor of Sunderland University, said: “We are pleased this matter has been cleared up.
“Mr Sloan made a mistake and has apologised to us for the confusion it has caused. We were sure our decision was correct at the time and are pleased that Steven Cairns has rightly been confirmed as our third place finisher.”