NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – Cases of cheating at the annual Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon have become rampant and the 14th edition was not spared either as John Mwangi Nyaruai was exposed after cheating his way to the top position in the men’s 21km on Sunday.
The 43-year-old breezed past exhausted competitors to cross the line first for what he thought would be a handsome payday of Kshs 150,000 but race organisers disqualified him after it was established he joined the leading pack as they approached the Nyayo National Stadium finish.
Pictures from photographers who were following the athletes along the course show Nyarwai in the leading pack of the 42km as they approached Parliament Road but the Timau based man claims he is the winner and did not cheat his way to victory.
“I have finished the race and I’m the winner. The race was good and I have never run like this before. I did good training and the course was good because we ran in town,” Nyaruai told Capital Sport as he tried to justify he is the winner.
“I was following the 42km guys who were ahead of me and in every stage the officers in charge took my bib number so I don’t understand why guys are saying I’m not the winner. I have trained for the past four months for this race. This is not my first time competing at the marathon; I was here four years ago. I have also competed at Ndakaini Half Marathon so I believe I’m the winner,” he claimed.
Reuben Limaa, who was awarded the race said he did not see Nyaruai infront of him and was shocked to hear that someone else had won.
“I didn’t see anyone infront of me. I was following the police motorbike and the leading car. We were in a leading park of 15 and I didn’t see him. I also entered the stadium alone,” Limaa, who trains in Kaptagat alongside Olympic champion, Eliud Kipchoge said.
“But I’m happy organizers were able to solve the issue and award me since I was determined to improve last year’s performance where I finished 12th. The win has regained my confidence back after pace setting in Chicago Marathon in 2013,” The 27-year-old stated.
The incidence left a bitter aftertaste on an otherwise tremendous day for elite and fun runners who took over the streets of the Kenyan capital as Athletics Kenya Nairobi chairman, Barnaba Korir said such cases should be criminalised to reduce such incidents in future.
“It has reached a time that we should criminalise cheat because it’s not correct if you wait then jump into the race half way, I think it’s not fair to other people and that’s fraud. But we have put structures this time to ensure that no one wins unfairly and that’s why we were able to get this guy,” Korir told Capital Sport.
“We have identified guys who were leading and he (Nyarwai) was not among them but the good thing is that we have nabbed him and we have to determine what penalties and sanctions we will give this guy so that it becomes a lesson to others,” the Athletics Kenya Executive member added.
“It’s a big problem and we have to tackle this one because it’s embarrassing in a big race like this some Kenyans try to cheat, they are setting a bad precedence for athletics in this county. We will take action and ensure it does not occur again, we want to send a strong warning to all athletes that it’s against athletics rules to cheat,” Korir affirmed.
This is not the first time the marathon has been marred by cheats. Last year, Julius Njogu was nabbed and arrested after he cheated his way into second place of the men’s full marathon.
In 2013, two athletes were disqualified at the after also attempting to cheat their way to podium finishes in the women’s race.
Prior to the event, organizers of the charity race had sent a warning to athletes intending to cheat with running time chips introduced to track the athletes but that seemed to fall on the deaf ears of Nyarwai.