Boston Marathon Organizers Owe 2014 Winner a Lot of Cash

Original winner was disqualified for doping, but Buzunesh Deba still hasn't received her $100K
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 10:25 AM CDT
Updated Apr 21, 2024 4:05 PM CDT
She Won the Boston Marathon in 2014, Is Still Owed $100K
Runner Buzunesh Deba speaks with reporters during a news conference in Boston on April 17, 2015.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

A doping scandal two years after the 2014 Boston Marathon left the women's winner, Rita Jeptoo, out of a medal, and the second-place contender, Ethiopian immigrant Buzunesh Deba, in the first-place slot. But now, more than seven years after getting that congratulatory phone call, Deba says she's still trying to recoup the $100,000 she's owed for winning. More here:

  • Jeptoo: Deba recalls Jeptoo didn't seem fatigued after the 2014 race, but the Kenyan runner didn't fail a drug test at the time, reports the Wall Street Journal. However, four months later, Jeptoo's test came up positive for the banned hormone erythropoietin, per the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and after an investigation, Jeptoo was sanctioned and stripped of her Boston Marathon title.
  • Deba: After training for six months, including running 130 miles per week, before the 2014 race, Deba was disappointed to lose to Jeptoo, which she says caused her to lose her Nike contract, per CBS News. When she found out in October 2016 she'd been proclaimed the winner, "I thought everything is to change," she says.

  • At stake: Deba is owed the $75,000 difference between first and second place, as well as a $25,000 bonus for breaking the women's record for the course, with a time of 2:19:59.
  • Delay: The Boston Athletic Association says in a statement it's trying to recoup the cash from Jeptoo, and that "we are unable to comment further." Jeptoo's agent tells the Journal in a text that he only started repping her this year and doesn't know anything about 2014; there's been no comment from Jeptoo herself.
  • Pushback: Deba and her husband tell the Journal that even though marathon organizers "treat us like family," they believe it's the organizers' responsibility to pay her, not Jeptoo's, and that they're frustrated by the delay. "It's not small money, the money we lost," notes her husband, former elite runner Worku Beyi, who now drives an Uber to make ends meet for them and their two young children.
  • Calculations: The Journal estimates that if Deba had been given the $100,000 back in 2016, it would have amassed about $28,000 in interest by now. Front Office Sports also makes this observation: "Of course, the BAA could pay Deba the money she's owed if it wants to," citing the Journal's report that the BAA has nearly $30 million in assets at its disposal.
(More Boston Marathon stories.)

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