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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Rich Running Fan Pays Boston Marathon Winner After Organizers Still Haven’t

  • The Boston Athletic Association has delayed paying $100,000 to the rightful 2014 winner.
  • A wealthy running fan read about the situation and decided to pay the athlete himself.
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Marathon’s 2014 champion is finally seeing her prize money after a stranger read about her story and decided to donate it himself.

Buzunesh Deba was named the official winner in 2016 after Rita Jeptoo was disqualified for doping. But the Boston Athletic Association has held up paying her the $100,000 she’s due—$75,000 for winning and $25,000 for setting a course record—because it’s been unable to recover the money from Jeptoo.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about Deba’s story a few days before this year’s Boston Marathon in April. On Monday, the outlet reported that a reader has paid Deba the $75,000 himself, and was open to funding the extra $25,000 if the BAA wouldn’t.

“Just do the right thing, and then if you have to use lawyers to claw it back, knock yourself out,” donor Doug Guyer, who attended Boston College and has long enjoyed the city’s marathon, told the Journal. “Just don’t put the onus on the second-place finisher.” He also called the delay in paying Deba “ridiculous.”

Guyer is a Philadelphia-area businessman who cofounded the e-commerce media network Brandshare. Deba, originally from Ethiopia but now living in the Bronx, said she will use the funds to support her family and buy gear to return to competitive running, as she has no sponsors. Deba’s last completed race was the Dubai Marathon in January 2020, according to World Athletics, the sport’s international governing body.

“For us, it’s a miracle,” Deba told the Journal through tears. “It’s life-changing, big money. We were waiting so long.”

Organizers for other marathons, including Chicago and London, have also failed to compensate runners following doping disqualifications, according to the Journal. The process of recovering prize money before redistributing it follows World Athletics policies, but a spokesperson told the Journal that BAA could still pay Deba on a “purely voluntary basis.”

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