When San Antonio resident Liza Hunter-Galvan crossed the line on Boylston Street in 2 hours and 46 minutes at the 2015 Boston Marathon she had no idea she was the first woman over 40 to finish. In fact, it wasn’t until much later that Hunter-Galvan received the news that her effort would net $10,000 in prize money from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA).
On May 29, 2009, Hunter-Galvan was issued a two year ban from participating in sanctioned running events after testing positive and later admitting to using EPO at least three times. She won the San Antonio Rock n’ Roll Marathon in 2008 with a career best 2:29 but has not come close to that time since.
Opinions are strong on whether convicted dopers who serve their bans should be allowed to compete again, receive prize money, endorsements or any of the other ways professional runs earn their income. Regardless of those personal viewpoints, Hunter-Galvan served her ban per the rules and now is allowed to compete. However, it was a brought to our attention by a reader that the five World Marathon Majors events (New York, Chicago, Boston, London and Berlin) have an agreement in place since 2006 to deny entry to runners previously convicted of doping.
When presented with this information, the BAA issued this statement:
This participant (Hunter-Galvan) was not invited or given accommodations, travel, stipend, per diem, preferred status or seeding, etc. She entered on her own as a qualifier and as part of the open registration process. We did not know of her intention to run. Because she is not subject to any current sanction or penalty, the prize money payment will be paid, pending adjudication of final results.
A follow up request to clarify how Hunter-Galvan received an elite women’s bib number and entry to the elite women’s corral (it starts 30 minutes prior to the elite men) did not receive a reply. It’s reasonable to consider an elite bib number preferred status and seeding thus the BAA’s statement is confusing and contradictory to what actually happened.
Interestingly enough, in January 2015 after three-time Boston Marathon champion was banned due to a failed drug test, the Boston Athletic Association released the following:
No athlete who is found to have tested positive may run in an Abbott World Marathon Majors race. The marathons which comprise the Abbott World Marathon Majors are Boston, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City.
“Drugs and doping in our sport will not be tolerated, and we will work with our partners in the Abbott World Marathon Majors, as well as the IAAF and WADA, to assure the continued implementation and rigorous observance and oversight of the strictest of standards in order to keep our sport clean,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. “We already have severe and defined penalties, but the Rita Jeptoo case has brought to light the need to work yet further in that regard to ensure our sport. We are deeply disappointed in the findings involving Rita Jeptoo, and we are committed to upholding the integrity and credibility of the Boston Marathon.”
Grilk’s own statement just three months ago contradicts the marathon’s current statement on Hunter-Galvan, and violates the agreement in place by the five World Marathon Majors.