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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: APRIL 21, 1980

There's No Denying Ruiz Created Controversy

April 21, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Did Rosie run a fast one . . . or did she pull one?

That's what marathon fans wondered 19 years ago today when Rosie Ruiz of New York crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon before any other woman, claimed the prize as women's winner and got it.

For a while, anyway.

Nearly everyone else associated with the race cried foul.

Speculation was that Ruiz, hiding among the million-or-so people lining the course, leaped into the race somewhere after the 22-mile mark.

"She's a definite phony," said Fred Lebow, director of the New York Marathon, the only previous marathon in which Ruiz had competed.

"She had none of the signs of having run a marathon. There were no salt stains on her face. Her shirt on the sides was completely dry."

Said Jacqueline Gareau of Montreal, the apparent second-place finisher: "I don't remember seeing her at any time during the race."

An official charting the top 13 women at the 22-mile mark said Ruiz never went by his checkpoint.

Ruiz tearfully denied all. But eight days later, she was officially disqualified and Gareau declared the winner. Ruiz was also disqualified from the previous year's New York Marathon, where a photographer reported she had seen Ruiz riding part of the way on the subway.

Lebow said after the Boston race he'd asked Ruiz what her splits were.

"She indicated to me she didn't know what a split was," he said.

"A marathon runner not knowing what a split is is like a guy claiming to be a pro basketball player and not knowing what a 24-second clock is."

As recently as last month, Ruiz, now 45, was still denying all.

"I ran both marathons, the entire 26.2 miles," she told Time magazine.

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