A 70-Year-Old LA Marathon Runner Has Been Disqualified For Cheating To Get An ‘Impossible’ Time
When Frank Meza, 70, hit a record-setting time back in March during the Los Angeles Marathon, people couldn’t believe it. The time, 2:53:10, was the fastest ever for a man his age. But according to the LA Times, The Los Angeles Marathon has new video evidence that shows Meza leaving the course during his record-setting performance in March.
As of now, Meza has been disqualified from the race as officials say the 70-year-old’s record time was “impossible”.
Officials with Conqur Endurance Group, which oversees and operates the LA marathon, say they reviewed footage from video cameras along the 26.2-mile race route. Footage shows Meza leaving the course for a portion of his run and reentering at another point. It was his time during that stretch was so fast that officials say was “impossible”.
“The video evidence is confirmed by a credible eyewitness report and our calculation that Dr. Meza’s actual running time for at least one 5K course segment would have had to have been faster than the current 70-74 age-group 5K world record,” officials stated. They say that his pace would have been “an impossible feat during a marathon.”
Meza, a retired physician, has denied all allegations of cheating thus far.
Meza has repeatedly denied any allegations that he might have cheated. He reiterated that again on Monday when he said he left the race course looking for a restroom. There are also some concerns from officials that say Meza was wearing his numbered bib on his hip instead of having it pinned to his shirt. This has raised concerns that Meza may have passed the bib to another runner for a part of the marathon.
But despite the accusations of cheating, Meza is standing by his performance. “I didn’t cut the course,” Meza told the LA Times.
Typically, many runners carry GPS devices that follow and confirms locations for marathons and track events. But Meza has never carried one. When asked about his record 5K pace during the marathon, he couldn’t say how he did it.
It’s significant to note that Meza didn’t enter marathons until the age of 60 and has since shown significant progress and record results after several years of running.
This has resulted in some controversy over Meza’s running times in several previous marathons. The California International Marathon in Sacramento disqualified him twice, in 2014 and 2016, for irregular splits. He was then banned, the LA Times said.
Marathon officials aren’t the only ones questioning Meza’s record time.
Many in the running community have frowned upon Meza’s alleged cheating noting how difficult and strenuous the sport is. On Twitter, one user wrote, “No way in hell Frank Meza ran 2:53 in the marathon. Definitely being a little superficial here, but he isn’t dressed like someone who is serious about running a 2:53 marathon.”
Meza has been better known in the LA community for giving his free time to low-cost health care as a former physician and helping local Latino students. He’s also been the lifelong runner who has been a part of the track and cross-country team at Los Angeles Loyola High as an assistant coach.
Despite all the bad press that Meza has received over the marathon time, he plans on going at it again in 2020. But this time, officials have again asked Meza to run with an observer to check his location and accurate run time.
Whatever the results are, he’s banking in on the chance to prove a lot of people wrong and again finishing the marathon in less than three hours.
“That’s my only silver lining.” Meza said.