Let’s face it most of us have in some point in our lives cheated at something. We have cheated on our girlfriend, exams, wives, games, took candy in mom’s hidden basin,you name it. In fact a survey done by Edutopia of a sample of 70 000 students, 95% admitted to cheating in some way during their school tenure. This includes straight A students who have no need to in the first place. The same phenomenon applies to pro sports. There has been a list of “impressive” cheats in history but today will focus on one in particular that has now gone down in sports cheating hall of fame. Rosie Ruiz and the Boston Marathon 1980. The Boston Marathon is one of the major long distance running meets in the world attracting world class runners annually.
In 1980 Rosie surprised the world by winning the event as a relative unknown. The American of Cuban decent beat Jackie Gareau a very decent runner at that time. It was at the podium ceremony that cracks began to appear in Rosie’s victory. Male winner Billy Rodgers noticed that Rosie was hardly perspiring and was rather too energetic for someone who ran 62 kilometers. Besides that the name Rosie Ruiz never registered in Bill’s radar of long distance runners before the race. Organizers were skeptical too so were the leading lady runners who took part. They never saw her at the starting point or was Rosie able to say what split times she made during the race. A little digging and evidence finding in the weeks after the race revealed evidence she actually joined the race about 2km to the finish to romp to victory in a then Boston Marathon record 2 hrs 31 minutes and 56 seconds. It also came out that Ruiz, a receptionist at a New York Brokerage Firm, in fact had ran the New York Marathon the previous year , her only other race in 2 hrs 56 minutes. It was also found that she actually boarded a subway at the 15 km mark only to join in the final kilometers of the race. Both her race times were nullified and was stripped of her medal which she refused to give back.
Now why did she feel the need to cheat? Rosie’s childhood was as sad as it can be. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, operated on and having a plate inserted in your head kind of explains her irrational behavior. She insisted she ran the whole of the Boston race in interviews following the race which lost her many sympathizers. I think her need for acceptance pushed her to do it same as what students do when they cheat exams. They want to be a member of the “A” club and fit in in some way. In fact her Boston Marathon participation was sponsored by the Brokerage firm she worked for after her “amazing ” time in New York. So she had a lot riding on it in more ways than we think.
In closing, people cheat when there is an opportunity to do so thus the need for more policing. Boston Marathon has since added more policing in terms of cameras, spotters along the course and trackers for the leading runners. People cheat because it is an adrenaline rush to do so thus explains why able competitors cheat when really there is no need. So imposing tough penalties for such cheats is the way to go, that is lifetime bans and monetary fines to act as a deterrent. Rosie passed away two years ago from cancer and Jackie has since been rightly credited with winning the 1980 Boston Marathon. Oh and Rosie was offered another chance to prove that we are ALL liars by running the race in the 1981. No prizes for guessing what she told the organizers to do with that invite.