Tyne & Wear

Runner Rob Sloan speaks out on 'cheat' allegation

Three months after he was forced to hand back his Kielder Marathon bronze medal, Rob Sloan has insisted that he did not cheat.

The former Sunderland Harrier - he has since been thrown out of the club - was accused of boarding a spectators' bus after the 20-mile point.

He then allegedly disembarked and crossed the finishing line in third.

However, Sloan told the BBC's Inside Out programme that it was a case of "mistaken identity".

He said: "My argument is, 'who in his right mind runs 24 miles of a 26-mile race, diversifies off the route, manages to find a bus, makes his way back in the race, lies in wait until the first and the second has passed then joins the race and finishes third'?

"In my opinion I should have joined the SAS if I could pull off something like that."

Distinctive tattoos

He had won the previous day's 10K race when he took part in the marathon on 9 October.

Almost from the start of the race, three leaders pulled away, with Sloan falling back.

Precise timings are recorded at half way, and he was shown to be in eighth place.

Image caption Sloan (highlighted, wearing a blue vest) was winner of the previous day's 10km race

At 17 miles the course photographer snapped Sloan in a group crossing the Kielder dam. He had by then fallen back to 10th place.

Steve Cairns, who was later awarded the bronze medal, said that he remained in third place from close to the beginning, and no-one passed him.

In addition, two of the passengers on the spectators' bus described a man matching his description - with similar haircut, tattoos, and Sunderland Harriers running vest - getting on board.

The driver also recalls stopping for a runner who looked like Sloan and who told him he was injured having run the 10K the day before.

However, Sloan said: "I did not cheat at any given point and I most certainly did not get on a bus.

"I think it's more a case of mistaken identity."

'Judge and jury'

He also based his defence on data from a satellite navigation system worn on his wrist.

He said this showed him travelling at a constant pace, until the last few miles when the reading "goes fuzzy".

When it was put to him that many people could pick holes in his story, Sloan said: "Oh yes, almost definitely. I'm not here as judge and jury, I'm just here to give my side of the story."

As well as being expelled from Sunderland Harriers, Sloan has been banned from competing until March, but said he did not view it as the end of his running career.

"I want to come back next year, and I want to do it for charity," he said. "I want to do it for Help for Heroes, which is something very very close to my heart..."

However, race organiser Steve Cram said: "I think before we would consider having him in any of our events we would at least hope he would come and apologise, and finally admit that his story didn't bear any truth at all."

Inside Out can be seen on BBC One in the North East and Cumbria on Monday 12 December at 19:30 GMT

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