A man and wife have been accused of cheating on the London Marathon after running the track wearing the same registration number on their vests.
Monika Czarnecka, 41, and her husband Piotr, 42, were photographed running together on the grueling course, prompting organizers to start an investigation as the couple faced a social backlash for cheating.
It later emerged that only Czarnecka was registered to line up with Piotr, who admitted to MailOnline that he had reproduced her number so he could accompany his wife for ‘moral support’.
Over 80,000 people took part in last Sunday’s race and Mrs Czarnecka, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, finished in a 21,697. space in a time of 4 hours 40 minutes and 58 seconds.
Monika Czarnecka, 41, and her husband Piotr, 42, have been accused of cheating on the London Marathon after running the track wearing the same registration number on their vest
The organizers launched an investigation after the couple was photographed running together on the grueling track
The couple originally logged their marathon time on the Strava running app, which they later deleted
Mrs Czarnecka, who was fighting back tears, sobbed to MailOnline: ‘I’m really sorry we did and would not cause harm. The fans were amazing and their cheers and clapping helped me finish the marathon and it hurts to think that I have failed them.
‘This was my first marathon and I needed Piotr’s support because I was sick worried I would not be able to finish it.’
Piotr, 42 added: ‘It was all my idea and I take full responsibility for it. I know it’s wrong and I’m really sorry, but I did what I did to support my wife. ‘
He admitted he was unable to secure a seat in the London Marathon himself after missing the ballot.
Registration numbers are distributed to runners days prior to the race, giving Piotr enough time to reproduce the 11250 number that had been issued to his wife.
But they were spotted by eagle-eyed members of the running community circulating images of those running alongside each other, including one of those crossing the finish line together.
A spokesman for the London Marathon confirmed: ‘We are aware of the photos showing two runners wearing identical numbers and we are investigating. We take any incident where a participant cheats or forges numbers extremely seriously. ‘
The couple originally logged their marathon time on the Strava running app, which they later deleted.
A furious Twitter user wrote: ‘She was suddenly terribly shy about Strava when I mentioned this photo and all the others and suggested she hand over her medal.’
Another tweeted: ‘I have had 9 rejections in 9 years. That kind of thing is incredibly frustrating. Next year is my last chance. I give no hope. ‘
Only Mrs Czarnecka was registered to run in the race with Mr Piotr admitting that he had reproduced her number
Piotr (pictured with his wife) admitted that he himself was not able to secure a place in the London Marathon
Other Twitter users became furious at the couple’s inconveniences, as charities had to pay for their seats in the starting lineup.
Run Hammer11 wrote: ‘It’s not fair if we pay around £ 200 for a charity where we stress raising £ 2k and you get really virtual or fake courses.’
The couple are not the first to have been accused of cheating at the London Marathon.
In 2014, an investigation was launched after Jason Scotland-Williams ran the first half of the race in two hours seven minutes, a normal time for an amateur athlete, but then did the second half in an astonishing hour in a minute-faster than Mo Farah and only two minutes slower than the world record for a half marathon.
Called ‘faux Farah’, he was accused of having jumped over a barrier to cut nearly ten miles away from the track.
Scotland-Williams has continued to deny allegations of cheating.
In 2018, it turned out that five runners had surpassed Olympic champion Mo Farah on parts of the route, as it later turned out that they had missed a third of the 26.2-kilometer course,
A runner, Rory O’Connor, from Ireland, raised £ 2,000 for a London Community Foundation charity, appeared to have run 13km in just 15 minutes – almost as fast as a tiger.
He said he was unaware of any problem and initially insisted he ran ‘every step’ of the marathon.
Another woman who appeared to have reached speeds of 27 mpg in sections – almost twice Mo Farah’s top speed.
That same year, a homeless man pretended to finish the London Marathon after finding a registration number on the ground.
Stanislaw Skupian, 38, was pictured with a finisher’s medal at the end of the 26.2-mile challenge, but he had only been in the race for about three miles after picking Jake Halliday’s lost number.
More than 80,000 people took part in last Sunday’s race, and Mrs Czarnecka, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, finished in a 21,697. space
In 2016, Natasha Argent returned her winning medal, while her running time was erased from London Marathon records.
The Only Way is Essex star was in hot water after race organizers found out she was registered as missing checkpoints 13 – 23 along the route. She later claimed that a panic attack resulted in her having to leave the race and that she was ‘really lost’.
Speaking to MailOnline from their home in Buckinghamshire, Czarnecka revealed that a ‘lynch mob’ from the running community was now out to pick her and Piotr, and that she had been inundated with hate messages.
She said: ‘We would not do it again. It’s like a lynch mob is after us, it’s awful and has ruined my life. I just hope that all this will soon be forgotten.
‘When I finished the marathon I was so happy I could not believe I had done it. Maybe I was selfish in wanting Piotr there with me, but I wanted to share the moment with my husband. I’m really sorry all this has happened. ‘
The couple, who hail from Poland, work in the transport industry and have two small sons, 3 and 6.
Piotr, who has run about 20 marathons, averaging about 3 hours and 30 minutes, said: ‘I did not collect a medal, I was just there to support Monika. The race was like a walk for me because my marathon times are much faster.
‘I’ve run two London Marathons before, so this one had just gone, it’s not about running. It was about my wife. People behave as if we have committed a serious crime and treat us worse than athletes who have been caught for drug dealing. ‘
He added: ‘Monika has not cheated, she did not take anyone’s place and really ran the race. It was me who did wrong because it was all my idea. But it was done in good faith. ‘
The pair also revealed that they are seriously reconsidering whether they want to run competitively again.
Monika said: ‘So far we are not running. We had many plans to participate in other races, but it’s a little hard to think of anything at the moment. ‘