On Sunday at the South African Marathon Championships in Durban, Zimbabwe’s Isaac Mpofu won the race in a personal best time of 2:10:04, but was later stripped of his title for only wearing one bib number. Athletics South Africa (ASA) competition rules stipulate that “all runners should have two bib numbers, one at the front and another on the back.” His mistake cost him $4,000 in prize money and qualification for the world championships in July.
Mpofu was told by race officials that he was in violation of the rule sometime after he crossed the finish line in first place. “We were given our race packs by the organizers and they were sealed, and we were told that everything was in there, and in the morning we discovered that there was only one bib number, and we informed the officials, and they informed the race judge, who said we can compete like that and we were surprised to be stripped of the title, because we had confirmed before the race and it was not our fault,” Mpofu explained to a local Zimbabwe paper.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) announced they have lodged an appeal with the ASA following Mpofu’s disqualification.
Zimbabwean runner Isaac Mpofu loses R50 000 in prize money during the Durban International Marathon for having one licence number number which was placed in front his vest and nothing on the back of his vest at the finish line. He was disqualified as per the rules.#NewsUpdates pic.twitter.com/Ye1a7oMCgk
— PretoriaLIVE (@LivePretoria) May 9, 2022
The 33-year-old Zimbabwean runner, who represented his nation at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, forfeited $4,000 in prize money, which was awarded to the winner. South Africa’s Tumelo Motlagale was given first place in light of Mpofu’s disqualification, covering the distance in 2:11:15.
The disqualification leaves Mpofu’s qualification for the World Athletics Championships in July up in the air despite the Zimbabwean bettering the qualification standard time of 2:11:30 during the Durban race.
Durban international marathon organisers should give Isaac Mpofu his prize money, he earned it. did competing while wearing one bib give him unfair advantage over other runners? Do the right thing please
— YT:merelinngwenya (@merelinngwenya) May 9, 2022
Mpofu and the NAAZ are still waiting for a response to their appeal from the ASA.