The London Marathon is hosted to benefit many cancer charities, and it raised more than 750,000,000 pounds in total since it started in 1981. Entering the race individually costs 400-500 pounds, and runners have to pledge to raise at least 2,000 pounds. The purpose of the race is to get money flowing into charities, but some see the event as a chance to earn the title of being first, and sometimes that overshadows even something as benevolent as this. Liliya Shobukhova is one of the London Marathon’s drugged runners cheating to win.
In going to London to race, Shobukhova had to leave her home land, Russia, and cross country borders with a biological passport. When she tried to get through though, she was found to have irregular results. Organizers of the English event noted that she had won in first place in 2010, and again with second place in 2011, and they now state that they will be revoking her induction and prize money, which totaled to over $1.5 million. Her winning Bank of Chicago Marathon titles of ’09, ’10, and ’11 were taken back, with the $855,000, and her ’09 and ’10 World Marathon Majors Series rewards were also withdrawn.
Shobukhova isn’t the only one who has been racing while intoxicated. More than 12,000 blood tests released to British and German presses found that 77 of the 800 drug-positive or abnormal blood test results came from Kenyan athletes. Despite the curious numbers, Wilson Kipsang, a winner of the London Marathon and Olympic races, states that “…for the top (Kenyan) athletes who have been running, tests have been carried out and they have been found clean,” indicating that the majority of race champions from that country succeed through clean, vigorous training. On the contrary, the Sunday Times had reported that between 2001 and 2012, 18 Kenyan Olympic champions have been tested for the presence of abnormal substances and had suspicious results. This includes high-ranking Rita Jeptoo, who had been caught for using a blood booster, erythropoietin, in September of 2014.
On August 2, recorded hidden-camera footage of Kenyan athletes injecting themselves pre-game aired on the ARD/WDR channel. It was a warning to both athletes and fans alike that in a legal situation, there is always evidence against cheating, and consequences will come soon after it is exposed. Also, a German documentary film about Russian, drug-using athletes will be released in December. Shubokhova will be one of the self-drugged London Marathon runners featured in the movie. She has been banned for two years for doping since January 2013, and when she applied for the races this year, she was caught again with a sketchy result, which extended her sentence by 14 months.
The London Marathon is a race to remember well-loved victims of cancer, and other chronic illnesses that inspire others to give sufferers a fighting chance. Initially, it was a very small event with little funds being made, but in the end it turned into something that can have an enormous impact. It has even expanded to include other events, like races for people who don’t regularly run or obstacle courses for people who like a physics challenge in their exercise. For people like Jane Sutton, who lost someone from an incurable illness, an important part of grieving is expressing the generosity and passion that the person would have loved to give, and for her the races are the best way to do so. Some of the London Marathon runners have drugged themselves, because they appreciate the high that comes with winning.
By Jarick Roaderick
TheGuardian: The London Marathon: So Much More Than A Race
DailyMail: Athletics-Kenya’s Top Runners Urge Fans to Keep Faith Amid Doping Storm
Chicago Tribune: Finally Official: Liliya Shobukhova Losing Three Chicago Marathon Titles
DailyMail: Athletics-Russian Marathon Runner Shobukhova Stripped of Titles
Photo Courtesy Of Annie Mole’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License