GETTING RID OF THE CHEATERS
IT WAS A sprint triathlon a decade ago – a fine morning, early in the season, not memorable in any way. But I recall my puzzlement when, midway through the run, I loped past a friend in my age group. I was baffled. She was by far a stronger swimmer than I was, but I had overtaken her on the first loop of the bike course. She hadn’t passed me again, so how come had she was already ahead of me on the run?
Neither of us made the podium that day. I finally beat her soundly on the run. Why bother to bring up my suspicions? As we dissected our races, I waited for her to acknowledge what was obvious: she had skipped a loop on the bike course. She had to know it, but she never said a thing. I found it shocking, but I was just as surprised by my own reaction, by how deeply stung I felt. She dropped out of the sport the following season, and I was relieved I wouldn’t have to keep up the pretense of camaraderie. I didn’t trust her anymore.
That memory came rushing back recently when I read ‘Swim. Bike. Cheat?,’ Sarah Lyall’s forensic analysis in the New York Times of Julie Miller’s Ironman Canada race in Whistler last year. I sympathized with Susanne Davis, the Californian who thought she had her 40 to 44 age-group victory all sewn up when she crossed the finish line, only to learn that Julie Miller had beaten her by five minutes.
The rest is history: photographic and video evidence show beyond a doubt that Miller skipped as much as half the marathon, jumping back in a few minutes ahead of Davis on the second loop. Despite her repeated avowals that she had not cheated and that she had simply lost her timing chip, Miller has been stripped of her first-place
Julie Miller at Ironman Canada in Whistler 2015