• Wes Hazard

Big Narc Energy

Going the Distance (and Beyond) to Catch Marathon Cheaters - Wired (Feb 2020)

A few points:


People should not cheat in competitive running, especially when doing so shuts actually deserving runners out of serious opportunities.


People who habitually cheat in long distance running events, especially when no monetary gain is involved, are likely grappling with some serious mental health / self-image issues.


Competitive races that take participants' money and claim to offer a fair and professionally-run race should absolutely be taking steps to ensure that cheating in their events is prevented and investigated.


You should not develop your own obsession with numbers (and your probable deep-seated inferiority complex re: being such a physically un-gifted runner yourself) into a personal vendetta that causes you to anoint yourself as mankind's last great hope to keep running fair wherein you spend the majority of your free time checking the records of road races throughout the country in order to expose and shame individual running cheats with a doggedness beyond all reason.


I wondered if he was obsessing too much over Moayedi. After all, she was doing good for health and well-being, and her race series allowed casual runners to try out long races without much pressure. “At what point do you just let it go?” I asked.


“I won't,” he said. “Not until Guinness takes a legitimate look at Parvaneh. Those records are now untouchable.”


...


One of Murphy's sharpest critics is Scott Kummer, a lawyer in Chicago whom Murphy invited to be his cohost on his Marathon Investigation podcast. The show explores famous cheating cases, and often the pair butt heads. (“I wanted somebody to debate with on the show,” Murphy says.) “There's a fine line between newsworthiness and creating an internet pile-on for an otherwise sad person,” Kummer told me. “If it's an elite runner who's caught, that seems OK. But if it's just Joe Average, who are we really helping with that? Anybody who goes to great lengths to cheat in a marathon probably has some issues to begin with, and having 4 million people on Facebook talk about what a piece of garbage they are isn't good.”


Murphy is unyielding. “It doesn't matter if it's a big race or small race,” he told me. “If somebody is reaching the podium and they cheated, it's wrong. The point is to preserve the integrity of the sport.”


...


“If what happened to Frank happened physically and not in the virtual world,” Faustina added, wiping away tears, “they would all be in jail.”


At some point on July 4, before Meza got out of the car, he'd recorded a video and left it on the front seat. On it, he apologized to his family for what he was about to do. He told them he loved them. “I can't go on with life with the whole world attacking me,” he said. “It feels like it's never going to stop, and I can't be pushed down any further. I just can't continue like this.”

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