Dr. Frank Meza, the 70-year-old who claimed several sub-3 marathon results, has been disqualified from this year’s Los Angeles Marathon, and there is no longer any doubt that he has cheated multiple times.
Meza attracted attention in March when he finished the L.A. Marathon in 2:53:10, more than a minute and a half faster than the late Ed Whitlock’s M70 record (2:54:48). The course is a point-to-point and therefore not record-eligible, but if true it would still be a tremendous accomplishment. But it turned out that Meza had a history of questionable marathon results and previous disqualifications, having been disqualified from both the 2014 and 2016 California International Marathons and subsequently banned from the race, prompting Conqur Endurance Group, operator of the L.A. Marathon, to take a closer look at his result.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) July 2, 2019
The same race questioned his results back in 2015, and invited him to run with an official observer the following year. He chose to race somewhere else instead.
Security camera and race photographs showed Meza repeatedly entering the course from the sidelines just before a timing mat in this year’s race, and he shows a 5K split that is faster than the world record for his age group–an impossibility in the middle of a marathon. This has been a consistent pattern in various races he has participated in, including several where he has claimed age group records. One report said his results over the past 10 years showed him improving on his 3:19 personal best by almost 30 minutes.
L.A. Marathon Issues Statement, Disqualifies Meza https://t.co/hcJX30LEfx
— Derek Murphy (@MarathnInvestgr) July 1, 2019
The LA Marathon has revised its age group records as a result of Meza’s disqualification, awarding first place to Dan Adams (4:10:07), second place to Marek Malolepzy (4:11:08) and third place to Joe Ogata (4:25:24).
In a conversation with Canadian Running after Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com sounded the alarm about Meza’s LA result, Meza denied cheating, claiming he often had to step off the course to urinate, but Murphy and others found that timing mat splits and photographic evidence consistently did not support that.
Meza has now himself suggested he run next year in L.A. accompanied by an official observer to prove he didn’t cut the course.
Gene Dykes of Pennsylvania ran the fastest M70 time of 2:54:23 at Jacksonville, Florida late last year, only to discover after the fact that Jacksonville is not USATF-sanctioned and therefore not record-eligible. Dykes came close to breaking the record at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last year, the same race where Whitlock set it in 2004, missing the time by only 25 seconds.
Dykes, an ultrarunner, has since gone on to set multiple US M70 records this year, including the 100-mile and 12-hour records and the Boston Marathon age-group record. He was planning another attempt at Whitlock’s record this year at STWM, but is recovering from a broken scapula from a fall in a trail race last month, and though he’s been told he won’t need surgery, he may or may not be healthy enough to contest the record in October.