Should Cleveland Marathon winner be disqualified? Expert says yes

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The winner of the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday, Daniel Mesfun, is still waiting to hear if he's going to be disqualified for wearing a T-shirt that covered up his bib, or runner's number.

In the pic above Mesfun had just passed the man who would eventually finish second wearing the orange shirt.

Mesfun would take his T-shirt off with just two blocks to go finally revealing his number.

Derek Murphy is not only a marathon runner himself, he studies and uncovers cheaters and those who should be disqualified in races all over the world for a website called Marathon Investigations and it based out of Cincinnati.

"Initially when I heard that a runner didn't have a bib showing I thought is it really that big of a deal," Murphy said in a Skype interview with Cleveland 19. "But again watching the video that you guys put together and reading up on the rules, I think it is kind of a big deal and it's my opinion that the runner should be disqualified."

With about 500 yards left in the race, Mesfun removed his T-shirt and finally revealed that he was runner #56.

The men who finished in second and third place have contested that Mesfun broke the rules.

The Cleveland Marathon has not yet made a ruling but is reviewing it with USA Track & Field (USATF) officials.

"I don't necessarily think the runner was trying to cheat by hiding the bib but it could easily be a source of confusion," Murphy said.

Murphy explained that after running 26 miles your mind doesn't exactly stay sharp.

When Mesfun passed Philemon Terer with just a half mile left for the lead, Terer may not have known he just lost the lead because the bib was covered up.

Unlike other marathons, when runners come across the finish line in Cleveland they are mixed in with those completing the 10K and half-marathon.

For that very reason, and to stay away from any and all confusion, the USATF has in its rulebook, "Rule 143, subsection 4 (b) that reads:

(b) If one bib is provided, it must be worn visibly on the front. When two bibs are provided, they must be worn on the singlet, front and back. If, pursuant to Rule 143.2, a singlet is not worn, the bibs should be worn on the shorts, front and back. The competitors may also be required to wear start list identifying numbers visibly on the hips and in other locations determined by the Games Committee

Mesfun is an elite runner and would have been known to the other elites like Terer who would eventually finish second.

So when Terer challenged the result, it may not be because he was confused, but more that he knew Mesfun was breaking the rules.

Murphy says because of the USATF rules it may not matter if Mesfun did it on purpose.

"Whether he was intending to be deceitful by not showing his bib or not, the rules there seem to be pretty cut and dry I think, so we really don't need to interpret what the intent was," Murphy said.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.