‘I don’t think she’s a cheater:’ Director details Mandy West’s disqualification after finishing first at Louisiana Marathon _lowres

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES CHAMPAGNE — Mandy West was disqualified from her first-place position Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, during the Louisiana Marathon in downtown Baton Rouge.

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Mandy West, a Nike Running specialty account executive from St. Louis who was the first female finisher at the Louisiana Marathon, was disqualified shortly after the race Sunday for “receiving assistance,” Marathon co-founder Danny Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois said the disqualification stemmed from a “technicality of assistance,” meaning West received aid from someone on the course who was not affiliated with the race or part of its 17 aid stations throughout the 26.2 miles.

Bourgeois said someone on a bicycle brought West “nutrition and liquids” several times during the race. Bourgeois said West was warned by a marshal “at least once that we don’t allow that.”

After West finished, race marshals consulted and shared the information with race director Jonathan Dziuba, who disqualified her.

A letter sent from Dziuba to all marathon participants on five occasions before the race stated, in part, the following:

“Please understand that outside assistance given to runners by people not affiliated with the race production is not allowed. I know this may be a touchy subject, but it is an important one and is a crucial one to observe as our race continues to grow and gain national and international attention.

“Outside assistance can consist of, but is not limited to: giving nutrition or fluids of any kind to a runner; entering the course at any point and “pacing” or accompanying a runner for any appreciable distance.

“We have aid stations at almost every mile for nutrition and fluids. If you need more nutrition or fluids than what the race is providing, then please be prepared to carry it with you. I know we all like for friends and family to run with us, but it is not the time for this during a race. It is not okay to have someone jump in to just ‘help you finish the last few miles.’

“Please help me by observing these rules so that everyone can have a safe and fair competition at our event. We will have course marshals along the course and they will be recording and documenting any infractions. Flagrant or repetitive violations can result in disqualification and no official finish time.”

West unofficially finished the race in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 26 seconds, well ahead of Amany Ishaq at 3:07:58. Ishaq was declared the winner after the disqualification.

In an interview shortly after the race, when she was still thought to be the winner, West said she was attempting to qualify for next month’s Olympic Trials. To do so, she would have to run the race in 2:45:00. She ran alongside a male competitor who had that pace until Mile 15, when he “dropped off.”

“I was in no-man’s land and it was hard with the wind to gauge kind of where I was. To be honest, I stopped looking at splits,” West said. “It’s a beautiful course, a lot of turns in certain areas, so I think that can slow you down with the wind. The crowd is amazing, and it was beautiful.”