According to several reports, Mandy West, 39, the first female finisher at the Jan. 17 Louisiana Marathon, was disqualified shortly after the race for “receiving assistance.”
Danny Bourgeois, the race’s co-founder, told The Advocate the disqualification was the result of a “technicality of assistance.” In other words, West, who works as a Nike sales rep in St. Louis, allegedly received aid from someone on the course who was not affiliated with the race or its 17 aid stations throughout the 26.2-mile course.
According to reports, someone on a bicycle allegedly brought West nutrition and liquids at several points during the race. Bourgeois said West was warned by race officials at least once during the race that outside assistance was prohibited under race rules.
After West finished in 2:49:26, race marshals consulted and shared the information with race director Jonathan Dziuba, who DQ’d her. Second-place finisher Amany Ishaq (3:07:58) was credited as being the first female finisher after the DQ.
In an interview shortly after the race, when West was still thought to be the winner, she said she was attempting to run 2:45:00 or faster to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. She said she ran alongside a male competitor who had that pace until Mile 15, when he “dropped off.”
“I was in no-man’s land and it was hard with the wind to gauge kind of where I was. To be honest, I stopped looking at splits,” West told The Guardian. “It’s a beautiful course, a lot of turns in certain areas, so I think that can slow you down with the wind. The crowd is amazing, and it was beautiful.”
According to reports, West was a two-time First Team All Ivy League basketball player at Penn and didn’t take up running until later in life after she played professional basketball in Greece.
West said she tried to get into the Houston Marathon, also run on Sunday, in an attempt to qualify for the Trials, but she “couldn’t get in.” She said the Louisiana Marathon was her first race in a year.
“Work is my focus,” West told The Advocate. “I run a lot, obviously I want to be competitive. But we’ll see, I think I might like to start getting into some trail running now.”
MORE: The Advocate
A handful of runners have been DQ’ed after being caught cheating in recent years, most notably when Mohamed Fadil was stripped of his victory at the 2014 Orange County Marathon. Fadil was the original victor in a course record time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 42 seconds, but the runner-up—Stephan Shay—protested after claiming Fadil had outside help during the race. Also, Kendall Schler was disqualified from the 2015 Go! Marathon in St. Louis after it was discovered she cut the course.