A couple says they are ‘really sorry’ after being accused of cheating the London Marathon by running with the same registration number on their vest.
Monica Czarneca, 41, and her husband Piotr, 42, were caught with the same number each other, leading the organizers to launch an investigation.
The pair also faced a major social media backlash for cheating.
It is now revealed that only Mrs Jarneca was registered to drive and Piotr reintroduced her number so that he could accompany her for ‘moral support’.
Mrs Jarneka told mail online: “I’m really sorry for what we’ve done and I didn’t want to do any harm.
“The supporters were amazing, and their cheers and clapping helped me finish the marathon and it hurts to think I let them down.
“It was my first marathon and I needed Piotr’s support because I was sick that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.”
Piotr said: “It was all my idea and I take full responsibility for it. I know it’s wrong and I’m really sorry, but I did what I could to support my wife.
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He admitted that he had missed the ballot and himself a place in the London Marathon.
Registration numbers are distributed to runners before the race, giving Piotr enough time to reproduce the 11250 number issued to his teammate.
Eagle-eyed members of the running community noticed them and photos of the couple running alongside each other were shared online.
A spokesperson for the London Marathon confirmed: “We are aware of images that show two runners in equal numbers and we are investigating.
“We take any incident where a participant cheats or takes the numbers very seriously.”
More than 80,000 people entered the London Marathon last Sunday.
Jarneka of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, finished 21,697th with a timing of 4:40:58.
The couple first logged their marathon time on the Strava running app, but they soon deleted it as their tasks began to fumble.
An angry response on Twitter said: “When I mentioned this photo and all the others and suggested she hand back her medal, she suddenly became very shy at Strava.”
Another person tweeted: “I’ve been rejected 9 times in 9 years. This kind of thing is incredibly disappointing. Next year is my last chance. I’m giving up no hope.”
Meanwhile another said: “It’s not fair if we’re paying £200 for a charity location, insisting on raising £2k, and you actually get virtual or fake.”
Mrs Jarneka said: “We will not do this again. It is as if a mob has come out to hold us, it is terrible and it has ruined my life. I hope all this is soon forgotten.”
“When I finished the marathon, I was so happy, I can’t believe I’ve done it. Maybe I was selfish in wanting Piotr with me, but I share that moment with my husband. Wanted to do it. I’m really sorry that all this happened.”