British ultramarathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski banned for 12 months for using a car

British ultramarathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski banned for 12 months for using a car
Joasia Zakrzewski has previously represented Great Britain - Facebook

A leading British ultramarathon runner has been banned for 12 months for using a car during a 50-mile race before accepting a third-place trophy.

Dr Joasia Zakrzewski, a GP from Dumfries who now lives near Sydney, had claimed that the incident arose due to miscommunication after she was sick, tired and jetlagged.

She said that she told marshals about using a car for part of the race but a UK Athletics disciplinary panel rejected that claim, saying it was “contrary to the evidence of the marshals, evidence which the respondent did not seek to challenge or contest, by way of cross-examination at the hearing”.

UKA have now banned Zakrzewski from competing in any licensed races, representing Great Britain, or coaching or managing for a year, after finding her guilty of breaching their code of conduct.

Zakrzewski was participating in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race on April 7, but says that she developed pain in her leg to the point where she accepted the offer of a lift from a friend to the next checkpoint.

Evidence showed that Zakrzewski, who has represented Great Britain on multiple occasions, covered around 2½ miles in a car, including one mile that was completed in just one minute 40 seconds at an average speed of 36mph.

In a letter to the panel, Zakrzewski accepted that she travelled in a car and then later completed the run to receive a trophy “which I did not return immediately as I should have done”. She insisted, however, that she had told the marshals that she was injured and had only decided to keep going on a non-competitive basis.

The marshals, however, said that she had continued “on a competitive basis” and that they had not been informed that she had already completed part of the course in a car.

The panel also said that Zakrzewski only disclosed using the vehicle when challenged by the race organiser and had “ample opportunity” to remedy the situation. “The respondent sought to defend this by claiming she was embarrassed, but ultimately she chose not to disclose what had happened rather than embarrass herself,” it said.

“Further the claimant had collected the trophy at the end of the race, something which she should have not done if she was completing the race on a non-competitive basis.

“Even if she was suffering from brain fog on the day of the race, she had a week following the race to realise her actions and return the trophy, which she did not do.

“Finally, she posted about the race on social media, and this did not disclose that she had completed the race on a non-competitive basis.”

Zakrzewski, who the panel acknowledged had a previously “impeccable record”, told the BBC that she should have handed the trophy back “but I was feeling unwell and spaced out and not thinking clearly”. She has apologised to Mel Sykes, who missed out on being awarded the trophy at the finish.