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Orange County Marathon winner disqualified after illegal act caught on camera

A California runner was stripped of his marathon title Sunday for accepting a cup of water from his father who was patrolling the 26.2-mile course on his bike.

Esteban Prado, 24, won the Orange County Marathon in 2 hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds. However, he was disqualified shortly after crossing the finish line due to his father’s involvement, which authorities considered “unauthorized assistance”.

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“At yesterday’s Hoag OC Marathon, we were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed that he had received unauthorized assistance from an individual on a bicycle, in violation of the athletics rules of the United States and our racing regulations,” race director Gary Kutschar said in a statement. statement. “We take these rules seriously to ensure the fairness and integrity of our event for all competitors.”

Per USATF regulations, runners are permitted to receive water from designated hydration stations along the race route.

Prado apparently had help from her father to hydrate on three occasions, according to footage obtained by NBC Los Angeles.

In one instance, Prado was leading the pack of runners when he approached his father who was sitting on a bicycle and offered him water as the two rode the course.

Prado's father hands him water.
Prado’s father hands him water.Source: Supplied
The incident was filmedSource: Supplied

However, Prado apparently encountered at least three workers who extended their arms to offer bottles of water before meeting his father.

“Because I was first, a lot of volunteers were jostling,” Prado told the outlet. “By the time I got there, they were… collecting the water. So most of the time the water stations really didn’t do anything for me.

Prado, competing in his second full marathon, didn’t know he faced disqualification for taking water from his family and claimed race workers were unprepared at hydration stations .

“We have videos of him walking past water stations and not getting the Gatorade or the water but getting it in a bottle from a guy on a bike,” Kutschar told the Sacramento Bee.

Prado has spent the last four months preparing for the OC Marathon, most recently placing first at the Surf City USA Half Marathon in February.

Kutschar overturned Prado’s disqualification in a phone call saying a competitor saw him receive a bottle of water from his father during the race, according to ABC 7.

Prado said the only person in range was the runner in second place.

Jason Yang, a 33-year-old from California, took first place after finishing 17 seconds behind Prado. It was his third marathon victory.

Yang criticized Prado for not apologizing amid the controversy and praised race officials for acting quickly.

Jason Yang declared winner of OC Marathon after Prado disqualificationSource: Supplied
Esteban Prado was disqualified after winning the Orange County MarathonSource: Supplied

“The marathon bike workers saw him and took videos of him getting help with his bike and I was asked about it, and I told them exactly what I ‘had seen,” Yang said on Instagram.

“My opinion on the subject? There is a reason why personal cycling assistance is not allowed in ANY marathon race if you are competing for a medal and/or prize money. It’s pretty absurd that Esteban Prado doesn’t apologize to everyone involved and still seems to think he won the race fairly. I think the race director made the right decision.

Yang also claimed that assisting a bike helps runners “keep their stride” and protects them from the wind on a day when there was “a 13 MPH wind.”

Temperatures reached 67 degrees during the OC Marathon, which serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

“The other guy that’s competing with him isn’t getting the same hydration or nutrition,” Kutschar told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s not mandatory for the race to have a certain number of water points, or anything else. It is our duty to make this a fair and equitable event. And so, to ensure fairness and integrity for all athletes, they must play by the same rules.

Prado, meanwhile, insists he is still the real winner despite his disqualification.

“You don’t get any money or anything. If he wanted 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 ABC7. “I really didn’t get anything out of it .I know I won.

This article was originally published in the NY Post and was reprinted with permission.