A conclusion comes to the story that made mainstream headlines earlier this year, where Jo Zakrzewski was disqualified from the 2023 Manchester To Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile ultramarathon after riding in a car for a few miles of the race.
Zakrzewski will serve a one-year ban from racing events sanctioned by UK Athletics, the United Kingdom’s governing body for athletics, as well as coaching.
After its April 2023 disqualification of Zakrzewski, GB Ultras, the organization behind the Manchester To Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile, released a statement that it was turning the case over to UK Athletics for further investigation.
On November 10, 2023, UK Athletics released its ruling and found that Zakrzewski had breached the Code of Conduct for Senior Athletes by failing to “participate within the rules of the sport, respect decisions of coaches and officials, and demonstrate respect towards fellow athletes” as well as failing to “act ethically, professionally and with integrity, and take responsibility for her actions.”
Zakrzewski, a Scottish ultrarunner, is probably best known for setting a then world record by running 255.7 miles (411.5 kilometers) in 48 hours in February of 2023. She has also been a member of Team Great Britain for multiple IAU 100k World Championships as well as a team manager for the event, while having been named Scottish Athletics Masters Athlete of the Year in 2020.
After the incident in April, Zakrzewski told “BBC Scotland,” the only news source we believe Zakrzewski spoke to post-race, that she’d only flown to the United Kingdom from Australia the night before the Manchester to Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile, which led to the jetlag that she says contributed to her poor decision to get into a car in the middle of the 50-mile race, get back out, and cross the finish line in a competitive manner.
According to the UK Athletics ruling, Zakrzewski told the governing body that injury caused her to climb into a friend’s car during the event, and when she’d gotten out to tell the marshals that she was injured and was withdrawing from the race, they encouraged her to continue in a non-competitive basis, which she did.
The UK Athletics ruling states that marshals claim that she never told them that she’d ridden in a car for part of the course, and when given the opportunity to contest the marshals’ evidence, she declined to do so.
After finishing the event, explains the UK Athletics ruling, Zakrzewski went on to accept the trophy for her finish and posted about the race on social media, never mentioning the ride in the car. While Zakrzewski claimed that she never intended to cheat, she also never denied her actions, saying in a letter to UK Athletics that is quoted in the ruling, “As stated, I accept my actions on the day that I did travel in a car and then later completed the run, crossing the finish line and inappropriately receiving a medal and trophy, which I did not return immediately as I should have done.”
Still, UK Athletics pointed out in its ruling that she had a week after the race to rethink her actions and return the trophy and didn’t. And on that basis, they found her in breach of the Code of Conduct for Senior Athletes. While the suspension for the breach would normally be two years, it was reduced to one year due to Zakrzewski being “subjected to a trial by social media” and cooperating fully with the investigation. The governing body also cited that she’d “previously had a clear and impeccable record.”
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