This article was first published today in our bespoke Sports newsletter The Fixture. You can sign up in seconds to receive it straight to your inbox every weekday here.  

It can't just be The Fixture who found that something didn't add up in Joasia Zakrzewski's explanation for why she forgot to inform race organisers of the Manchester to Liverpool ultramarathon that she had taken a lift with race officials in a car for part of the journey.

Zakrzewski was in pain and claimed she had done so with the intention of pulling out of the race but was persuaded to carry on by officials before accepting the trophy for her third-place finish. 

The Australia-based Scottish athlete said she had made a “massive error” in accepting the trophy but said she had been disorientated at the time due to jet lag claiming she felt sick and was “spaced out”.

But what was less apparent was what happened to Zakrzewski between accepting her trophy, posing for photos and submitting her time and why she had neglected to inform race organisers of her car journey long after the race had finished and the effects of her jet lag had worn off.

Instead, a few days later, she took the time to post a message on social media about her result. 

“What a legend!” read a post on GB Ultras Community, a Facebook page for ultrarunners. “Joasia Zakrzewski has flown from Australia, landed literally 5 min before the registration and here she is ready for Manchester to Liverpool Ultra,” wrote one of the page moderators.

A few posts later, Zakrzewski added her own comment to the conversation saying: “Maybe I should blame the jetlag for the extra miles I added in. (Laughing emoji).”

Yesterday Zakrzewski's disqualification was confirmed and Melanie Sykes was installed in third place.

The Herald:

“Great news for me but really bad news for sportsmanship,” wrote Sykes on Twitter. “The below happened because a fellow competitor cheated. She travelled in a car for around 2.5 miles of the M2L 50 mile event last week. After an investigation, she has now been DQ'd, and rightly so.”

"The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p*** out of the race organisers, fellow competitors and fair sport. How can someone who knows they have cheated cross a finish line, collect a medal/trophy and have their photos taken?!

“The audacity of uploading the data, complete with trophy photo, makes this worse!! Racing is racing. No matter who you are and how much you've prepared, things go wrong on race day. Suck it up. Take it on the chin. Move on to the next one. Being a cheat is not OK."

Of course, whether Zakrzewski likes it or not this puts a huge question mark against her integrity and calls into question just about every achievement over her career. In February, she set the women’s 48-hour world record at the Taipei Ultramarathon, covering 255.6 miles.

Zakrzewski had never raced a 48-hour event and only had one 24-hour race under her belt prior to setting the world record. In that race, she set the UK record with 154 miles, according to British Athletics.

The Zakrewski story reminded The Fixture of the fabulous tale surrounding the 1904 Olympic marathon which also included a hitchhiker. Only 14 men crossed the finish line in that race – one after falling asleep and another – the eventual winner – after drinking rat poison.

It was to become known as the most infamous marathon in history. Among the early leaders around the first five laps of the field were three previous Boston Marathon winners – none of whom would finish the race. Competitors ranged from a professional clown, a bricklayer, a slaughterhouse worker and the two first Black Africans to compete at the Olympics, two men who had carried messages for the Boers during the Boer War.

Strange things started to happen out on the dirt roads that made up the rest of the 24.85-mile course. With only one water station at 12 miles and temperatures rising, dehydration started to play a part. The Cuban, Felix Carvajal, who stopped to eat some rotten apples at an orchard, started to get stomach cramps and had to lie down, whereupon he fell asleep. 

American Fred Lorz, who had dropped out of the race after 10 miles suffering from muscle cramps and hitched a lift back to the stadium, suddenly felt refreshed after his 11-mile journey in a car and decided to run the last few miles. He entered the stadium and crossed the line to claim victory. He laughed off his win claiming it was a joke but he was subsequently given a lifetime ban.

Another American, Thomas Hicks, who was still four miles behind out on the course, was also struggling with dehydration – his coaches adopted a different tactic to aid their stricken athlete. Hicks was given a combination of egg whites and strychnine. In high doses it is used to kill rats, but it is also a stimulant and currently banned in competition by WADA. It was enough to see Hicks home in first place.

Bending the rules is nothing new in athletics.