A medal-winning marathon runner who unmasked himself as an imposter has sparked an official investigation.
Neil Kennedy stood in for friend Paddy Patterson in the D33 ultra-marathon in Aberdeenshire, finishing third in his age group.
But the pair were rumbled after Mr Kennedy joked in a post on Facebook about how he’d faked his friend’s Irish accent when he’d picked up his race number.
But his lighthearted post has sparked an investigation by Scottish Athletics. Now both men could be suspended from entering licensed competitions as well as being blacklisted by organisers of ultra races – which are classed as any race over the standard 26.2-mile marathon.
Runners are banned from swapping numbers without the permission of race organisers, mainly on health and safety grounds.
The two amateur athletes are also at the centre of a cheating row after Mr Kennedy was snapped holding up the third-place trophy.
The 45-year-old, from Glasgow, finished the 33-mile run last Saturday in four hours, 29 minutes and 17 seconds, despite poor weather conditions. He was then photographed beaming for the camera as he was handed an engraved plaque by race director Dod Reid.
But the stunt unravelled when Mr Kennedy decided to share the picture with a popular running group on Facebook and it was spotted by organisers.
He even joked about how Mr Patterson – the slower of the two – would have to defend his title next year.
He wrote: “Sorry Paddy Patterson! Three weeks ago you asked me to do the D33 ultra in your place. You couldn’t do it. I said ‘OK’. So I signed in as Paddy with my good Irish accent (I am Scottish, Paddy is obviously Irish).
“Did the run. Got my medal then the main organiser followed me into the marquee and gave me this plaque and said ‘well done Paddy, you came in third vet’.
“Sorry Paddy, if you do it next year you need to defend your title!”
The post, which has since been deleted, prompted veteran race director Mr Reid to report both men to the sport’s governing body, Scottish Athletics.
Mr Reid also shared a screenshot of Mr Kennedy’s post with the words: “I will see to it that you are both banned from any future Scottish Athletics events.
“You have stolen a place from the rightful winner and put runners’ safety at risk. You are both no longer welcome within the Scottish ultra scene.
“I will make sure the rightful winner receives his prize. You will be removed from the D33 results.”
The post split opinion among runners.
Both Mr Kennedy and Mr Patterson, who lives in Edinburgh, declined to comment.
Yesterday, Mr Reid told The Sunday Post: “I think they have had an awful hammering on Facebook.”
He stressed that his primary concern was the safety of competitors as every entrant is asked to provide a medical history and details of their next of kin.
If a runner fell ill during the race, it could result in problems if medics thought they were someone else or the wrong family was contacted.
Mr Reid said: “We take it very seriously and the matter has been passed on to Scottish Athletics to make a ruling regarding sanctions for these two particular runners.
“The reason I’ve pushed through with it is not the fact that Neil thought it was funny but he just didn’t understand. I don’t think he meant any malice by it.”
He said unofficial number swapping was wrong, and might put the event insurance at risk.
Scottish Athletics confirmed Mr Kennedy and Mr Patterson, who were both experienced ultra-marathon runners, were being investigated and could be sanctioned.
He said: “We are aware of this issue and have been looking into it. We have been in discussion with all those involved.
“Swapping race numbers is not good practice for a number of reasons, predominantly safety.”
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