translated by Brett Larner
City officials in Odawara, Kanagawa announced on Mar. 26 that the 22-year-old male winner of a local road race held in Odawara on Mar. 10 has been stripped of his title after it was discovered that his friend, a 23-year-old Odawara city employee and former high school track teammate, had run in his place. The officials said that the 23-year-old city worker will face penalties for running as a "double."
According to municipal officials, the actions in question took place at the city-organized 2000-runner Sontoku Road Race in the men's under-29 10 km division. Just before the start of the race the 22-year-old experienced pain in one of his thighs and decided not to run. His 23-year-old friend said, "I'll run instead," and ran wearing the 22-year-old's bib number. The 22-year-old, who won the race last year, told him, "OK, but only as long as you don't make the podium."
After the 23-year-old won the race the 22-year-old took part in the award ceremony and received prizes. The city's athletics bureau discovered the switch after a phone call alerted them that a "double" had actually won. A city official commented, "The two of them did this on the spur of the moment without really thinking it through. They have been very apologetic about it."