Mohamed Fadil's record-breaking victory at the Orange County Marathon was cut short when he was disqualified days after the race, but the runner has maintained that he didn't mean to break any rules.
Fadil crossed the finish line in two hours, 21 minutes and 42 seconds this weekend, beating the previous 2011 record holder in the 26.2-mile race.
After his win, a verbal protest was made by runner-up Stephan Shay, who said Fadil was coached and handed water by a cyclist that was not an officiate of the race.
Shay, 28, from Huntington Beach, said he stopped at a water station near mile 13 when he saw the cyclist approach Fadil.
Shay said the man, who was later found to be a friend, gave Fadil fluids during the race.
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"From my perspective, it seemed like it was planned out," Shay said. "I don’t know what was in those bottles."
Fadil, 32, of Albuquerque, told the Orange County Register that he stopped at mile 13 when one of the race's official cyclists got a flat tire. Another cyclist began riding next to Fadil to lead him along the route, he said.
Fadil admitted to the newspaper that his friend rode next to him and gave him water, two things he said he did not know were against the rules.
But Shay compared not having to stop for water at the marathon to a Nascar race.
"Imagine never having to pull over to get new tires or stop at a pit stop," he said.
Shay’s brother, Nathan, with the help of friends, videotaped Fadil conversing with the man on the bike.
"He was speaking with him, kind of coaching him along," Shay said.
In the video, a man in a blue shirt was seen riding alongside Fadil before approaching Shay's brother. A heated argument between the two men ensued.
"You're assisting him," Nathan told the man in the video. "It's cheating."
"Relax buddy, it's because your brother got beat," the man responded.
Video evidence was key for officials who determined Fadil violated race rules.
Orange County Marathon Director Gary Kutscher made the call Tuesday to tell Fadil he would no longer be the winner and that Stephan Shay, with a run time of two hours, 23 minutes and nine seconds was the new champion.
"(Fadil) was very disappointed and I was sad to have to give him the news," Kutscher said.
Fadil told Kutscher he was unaware of the rules that prevented him from having someone ride along side him.
"I believe Mohamed completely when he says he was unaware of that," Kutscher said. "But the video was so compelling that what was going on was in direct violation of those rules."
"I hope he understands that I had to do what I had to do as a race director," he added.
Calls to Fadil were not returned by time of publication.
"Sometimes the rules aren’t always spelled out, but with running, it’s pretty cut and dry," Shay said.
Kutscher extended an invite to the 2015 Orange County Marathon to Fadil.
"I told Mohamed that this is not a ban and that this is simply a disqualification of one race and we would welcome him back," he said.