Joasia ultramarathon runner
"I accept my actions on the day that I did travel in a car and then later completed the run," said Joasia Zakrzewski.
01:45 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

An ultramarathon runner has been banned for 12 months after using a car during part of a 50-mile race, UK Athletics (UKA) announced.

Joasia Zakrzewski was competing in the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race in northwest England on April 7 when she accepted a ride in a friend’s car and ended up placing third.

In a letter submitted to UKA’s independent disciplinary panel, the Scottish athlete said: “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.”

The panel concluded that Zakrzewski did not tell race marshals that she had been given a lift in a car and concealed “that she had completed part of the race on a non-competitive basis” by accepting – and subsequently not returning – the third-place trophy.

The panel ruled that Zakrzewski would be banned from competing in any event that falls under UK Athletics jurisdiction, or from representing Great Britain, for 12 months.

She has also been banned from “coaching, officiating, and managing” for the same period.

“The Respondent was an experienced athlete, competing successfully at the highest level,” the panel said in its verdict.

“She also acted as team manager for the international team. As such the Respondent had a responsibility to uphold the rules, and this made it even more serious that she breached them, and did not correct this either when finishing the race or thereafter.”

After the race, tracking data picked up irregularities in Zakrzewski’s time. She later admitted to the BBC that it was a “massive error” to accept the third-place trophy, something that she attributed to fatigue and jet lag having arrived from Australia the night before.

“I would never purposefully cheat and this was not a target race, but I don’t want to make excuses,” she said.

According to the BBC, Zakrzewski said that she became lost around the halfway point of the race and her leg became sore, after which she accepted a ride in a friend’s car to the next checkpoint.

At the checkpoint, she was persuaded to keep going and agreed to run in a “non-competitive way,” Zakrzewski told the BBC, and in the disciplinary panel’s report said that she had never intended to cheat and denied acting without integrity.

Zakrzewski, a doctor who has competed internationally for Scotland and Great Britain, is able to appeal the decision. CNN has contacted Zakrzewski for comment.