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Marathoner disqualified for apparent shortcut

Times Staff Writer

Former Mexican presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo made headlines in Germany, eight days after winning the Berlin Marathon in his age group.

“The Fastest Man of Mexico,” said Monday’s Berliner Zeitung newspaper, referring to the 55-year-old Madrazo’s race time of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds.

Unfortunately for Madrazo, it was a sarcastic jab. He was disqualified Monday by race officials after an investigation showed that the computer chip he carried went undetected at checkpoints along about a third of the 26.2-mile course. Madrazo appeared near the end of the race and was declared the winner of the “men’s 55-and-over” category.

“We’re disqualifying him,” said a race spokeswoman Tuesday.

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Marathon officials said there was no record of Madrazo crossing race checkpoints between the 12.4-mile and 21.8-mile course markers. A race video showed him bundled up in a windbreaker, hat and sweatsuit as he crossed the finish line, arms outstretched in an apparent victory salute. His weary opponents, meanwhile, soldiered past in shorts and singlets.

Computer chips carried by each of the marathon’s more than 40,000 racers were recorded by scanners placed roughly every 3.1 miles along the route, race officials said.

Mexico’s Reforma newspaper investigated Madrazo’s marathon performance after learning he’d cut an hour off his personal record in his third marathon of the year.

The paper found he ran the first half of the race at his normal pace. But over the more than nine miles missing from the computer record, Madrazo would have had to run faster than the world record holder to finish in his winning time.

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The cheating allegation drew many wry comparisons here to the modern world record of seven decades during which Madrazo’s Institutional Revolutionary Party managed to dominate elections.

“Even abroad he plays tricks to win,” one blogger mocked. “If he had won the presidential election . . . they would’ve taken him to Beijing in 2008.”

The newspaper Milenio depicted Madrazo in front of the Brandenburg Gate, declaring “Yes we could!” a reference to the “Yes we can” slogan of his failed 2006 presidential campaign. “First place in freestyle shortcut division,” it added.

Madrazo would not comment on the disqualification or the race, spokeswoman Addy Garcia said Tuesday.

“At this moment he holds no public office, and he is just like any other Mexican who doesn’t have to give an explanation to anyone,” she said.

Madrazo finished third in the July 2006 presidential election after being dogged by allegations that he had profited from a lifetime of public service under the PRI, as the former ruling party is known.

“He doesn’t have such a good reputation in politics, and now in sports too,” said Adrian Basilio, one of the Reforma reporters who broke the story last week.

sam.enriquez@latimes.com

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Cecilia Sanchez and Maria Antonieta Uribe in The Times’ Mexico City Bureau contributed to this report.


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