Scottish ultra-marathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski banned for 12 months for using car during race

A Scottish ultra-marathon runner has been banned for 12 months by UK Athletics for using a car during a 50-mile race - and then accepting third place.

Joasia Zakrzewski was caught using the vehicle during this year's GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool run after tracking data showed she was not running for 2.5 miles of the event.

The 47-year-old, who represented Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, was later stripped of her third place finish.

Zakrzewski claimed she told race officials about having been in a vehicle for a portion of the run in April and finishing the race "in a non-competitive way".

But in its verdict, the Independent Disciplinary Panel of UK Athletics said: "The claimant had collected the trophy at the end of the race, something which she should have not done if she was completing the race on a non-competitive basis.

"She also did not seek to return the trophy in the week following the race."

Zakrzewski, who works as a GP in Dumfries, had won a 48-hour race in Taipei, Taiwan, weeks before the UK run.

She also claimed victory in a 24-hour race in Australia in 2020 after running more than 236km (146 miles), and had previously set national records for 200km and 100-mile races.

A friend of the runner told the BBC that Zakrzewski was unwell and arrived in the UK from Australia just hours before the April race.

Adrian Stott said: "The race didn't go to plan. She said she was feeling sick and tired in the race and wanted to drop out.

"She has cooperated fully with the race organisers' investigations, giving them a full account of what happened."

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After Zakrzewski was stripped of the result, an incensed Mel Sykes was handed third place.

She wrote on social media afterwards: "The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p*** out of the race organisers, fellow competitors and fair sport.

"How can someone who knows they have cheated cross a finish line, collect a medal/trophy and have their photos taken?!

"The audacity of uploading the data, complete with trophy photo, makes this worse!!"