A COUPLE accused of cheating the London Marathon by running with the same registration number on their vests should return their medal, fuming onlookers have said.
Monika Czarnecka, 41, and her husband Piotr, 42, were snapped alongside each other with the same numbers on, which led to organisers launching an investigation.
Photos show the pair running in vests with the same number on[/caption]
An emotional Monika gets over the finish line with Piotr[/caption]
It was later revealed that only Mrs Czarnecka was registered to run and that Piotr reproduced her number so he could accompany her for ‘moral support’.
Mrs Czarnecka has since apologised, saying she didn’t mean to cause any harm.
But the controversy sparked backlash in the running community, with fuming onlookers insisting the couple are banned from future events.
One Facebook user wrote: “Revoke her medal and ban them both from competing in any future London Marathon.
“London themselves have it in their rules that if competitors are found to be cheating, they’ll be banned.
“Let’s see if the organisers stand by the rules they created. If not, they’ll be an even bigger backlash.”
Another wrote on Twitter: “Ban her from further events.”
Someone else said: “This is awful! I waited years to run, I ended up getting a charity place as I’ve had no luck in the ballot. These pair need a ban from racing in future events.”
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Mrs Czarnecka earlier apologised for racing alongside her husband.
She told the MailOnline: “I’m truly sorry for what we’ve done and didn’t want to cause any harm.
“The supporters were amazing, and their cheering and clapping helped me finish the marathon and it hurts to think that I’ve let them down.
“This was my first marathon and I needed Piotr’s support because I was worried sick that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.”
Piotr added: “It was all my idea and I take full responsibility for it. I know it’s wrong and I’m truly sorry, but I did what I did to support my wife.”
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He admitted he had missed out on the ballot and a place in the London Marathon himself.
Registration numbers get distributed to runners ahead of the race, which gave Piotr enough time to reproduce the 11250 number which was issued to his partner.
Eagle-eyed members of the running community spotted them and snaps of the pair running alongside each other were shared online.
A spokesperson for the London Marathon confirmed: “We are aware of the images that show two runners wearing identical numbers and we are investigating.
“We take any incident where a participant cheats or forges numbers extremely seriously.”
Over 80,000 people entered last Sunday’s London Marathon.
Czarnecka, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, finished in 21,697th place with a time of 4hrs 40 mins and 58 seconds.
The couple logged their marathon time on the Strava running app at first, but they soon deleted it as their actions began to be rumbled.
One angry response on Twitter said: “She’s suddenly got awfully shy on Strava when I mentioned this photo and all the others and suggested she hand back her medal.”
Another person tweeted: “I’ve had 9 rejections in 9 years. This kind of thing is incredibly frustrating. Next year is my last chance. I’m not holding out any hope.”
Meanwhile another said: “It’s not fair if we are paying around £200 for a charity place, stressing raising £2k, and you get virtuals or fakes on course really.”
Mrs Czarnecka added: “We would not do it again. It’s as if a lynch mob is out to get us, it’s awful and has ruined my life. I just hope all this will be forgotten quickly.
“When I finished the marathon, I was so happy, I could not believe that I had done it. Maybe I was selfish in wanting Piotr there alongside me, but I wanted to share the moment with my husband. I’m really sorry that all this has happened.”
Over 80,000 people took part in the 2021 London Marathon[/caption]