Spanish, Honduran marathon runners handed six-month bans for bib-fixing

April 8, 2023

AthleticsAthletics Championship


Camilo Santiago and Honduras’ Ivan Zarco Alvarez have been suspended for six months after the Spanish runner wore his rival’s bib at the Itelligence Citylauf Invitational Marathon 2021 in Dresden, Germany, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Friday.

Zarco suggested Santiago use his bib, which has an athlete’s identification number printed on it, during the race as the Honduran had to miss the event since he was suffering from heel pain.

Zarco later contacted the World Athletics to request that the marathon result be attributed to Santiago.

“The fact that Mr Zarco and Mr Santiago exchanged bib numbers and were caught in a public forum demonstrates that their conduct was unreasonable and brought the sport into disrepute,” the AIU said in a statement

“The bib swap was an intentional agreement to alter Mr Zarco’s results in the marathon… particularly in circumstances where Mr Zarco must have known that the result in question would have been a Honduran national record,” they added.

The incident, which became public after the Spanish website Soy Corredor published an article about the change in March 2021, prompted Santiago to tweet an apology, pointing out that he meant no harm.

Both then testified at the IUA investigation that Santiago’s bag (containing his race bib number) disappeared just before the race and that they explained to the organisers that Santiago would run with Zarco’s bib.

However, the marathon organisers said there were facilities for printing bibs at the starting point and that “no official would have indicated that an athlete could exchange bibs”.

The athletes’ early admission and their low level of international competition resulted in them benefiting from a shorter suspension period of six months, as opposed to the one-year sanction that the AIU would have requested before a Disciplinary Tribunal.