Marathon Winner Disqualified After Victory Due to Obscure Rule


In the USA Track & Field rulebook, participants in road races are only allowed to receive water from designated hydration stations along the race route. One marathon winner recently learned the hard way how critical this rule is to follow after being stripped of his title not long after crossing the finish line. 

On May 4, 24-year-old Esteban Prado claimed victory at the Hoag Orange County Marathon after finishing in 2 hours, 24 minutes, and 54 seconds. According to race officials, however, he was seen three times throughout the race receiving water from his dad who was riding his bike parallel to the race route. That was grounds for disqualification and the stripping of his win, according to race director Gary Kutschar. 

“During yesterday’s Hoag OC Marathon, we were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed they received unauthorized assistance from an individual on a bicycle, in violation of USA Track & Field rules and our race regulations,” Kutschar said in a statement, per KTLA. “We take these rules seriously to ensure fairness and the integrity of our event for all competitors.”

Prado explained his reasoning on the hydration help to NBC Los Angeles. “Because I was first place, a lot of the volunteers were just like scrambling,” he said. “By the time I got there, they were… grabbing the water. So a lot of the time the water stations, they really had nothing for me.” He noted that he wasn’t aware he could be disqualified for taking water from outside sources. He learned of the news after a phone call with Kutschar. 

Jason Yang, who was crowned the new winner after Prado’s disqualification, aired out his criticism on Instagram. 

“The marathon bike workers saw and took videos of him getting bike support and I was asked about it, and I told them exactly what I saw,” he said.

“My thoughts on the matter? There’s a reason personal bike support is not allowed in any marathon race if you’re competing for a medal and/or prize money,” he continued. “It’s quite absurd Esteban Prado isn’t apologizing to everyone that competed and still seems to think he won the race fair and square. I think the race director made the right decision.”

In Prado’s eyes, he still views himself the true winner of the race. 

“You get no money or anything. If he wanted that congratulations for that first place, if he really felt like he needed it, it’s just for him at the end of the day,” Prado told ABC 7. “I really got nothing out of it. I know I won.”

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