When You #SpeakOut Against a Cheater

I stand by everything I have said on social media because it is the truth. Kelly Roberts is not an elite athlete. I can admit if I’ve made a mistake or had misinformation, but a 1:42 half marathon on the roads for a non-Paralympic woman under 30 years of age can universally be agreed not to be at elite levels of racing. Oiselle did not comment on the incorrect representation on the Strava panel at Boston Marathon (one of the most prestigious marathons in the US), nor did either party correct it or acknowledge the misinformation. But my membership with the Oiselle team was rescinded within the same day. This isn’t the first time Oiselle has inadvertently condoned listing Kelly as an elite.

At this point, it’s disheartening that the value Oiselle placed in honesty, integrity, truth and transparency from the running community is no longer enacted upon. All these years with the CEO publicly calling out Nike, IAAF, IOC, USOC, USATF, amongst others for ethical issues is not at the forefront of what they believe as a company any longer, as evidenced by their actions in supporting an admitted, unremorseful cheater in the same sport that they sponsor elite athletes. The reason I personally joined Oiselle was because of what they unapologetically stood for – inclusivity and justice for the love of the sport for everyone, no matter their race, pace, size, shape, or fitness level. I also joined because a part of my membership fee went to their elites – to help other women pursue their dreams of racing at national and world levels. This was a beautiful way for me to give back to the sport that I love.

With Oiselle supporting an admitted cheater without confirming her actual role as a paid representative (only confirmed via Kelly’s own words in a later interview, not by Oiselle: “Oiselle is a partner of mine, so they pay my bills”) while concurrently advocating to #SpeakOut has spoken volumes of irony to many. Multiple members requested answers, and were told by the CEO to not question the role of a teammate. Instead, we could be refunded our membership. This “shut up or ship out” mentality doesn’t strike me well. I prefer open, respectful dialogue. To agree to disagree. Yes, conversations can become intense, but it is surely better than staying silent. Especially when the actions and statements of a “teammate” don’t add up. All we asked was for clarification of her actual role when her social media and interviews stated that she was “invested in” by Oiselle, that she was “sponsored like Lauren Fleshman”, that Oiselle understood that her story was not free, without properly documenting the hashtags “#ad” & “#sponsored” FTC regulations required across the board.

Oiselle’s actions speak louder than words and they are no longer their elite racing community’s advocate, by adding a non-elite member whose selfies are celebrated in lieu of acknowledging the elite team members winning races and competing across the country. At the end of the day, you cannot advocate for honest racing when you openly support and elevate a woman with no respect for honest racing in multiple situations. All I ask is that you stand by what you say you believe in. Sadly, if you are but a small piece of the puzzle and speak out for the truth to be stated, Oiselle then becomes the bully they’ve been publicly denouncing.

Cheaters take away from the sport of running at all levels. Whether it is doping, a bib mule, using someone else’s bib without a sanctioned transfer, creating fake bibs/copying them, cutting the course, no matter the level of competition, it is a thief of honesty from those that have worked hard to race a time that is honest. It is a theft from the races themselves, that have to pay to have all the resources available to each runner. It is a theft from the time and effort that is placed into making sure all runners are safe by securing permits from the city. And in the cases of prize money, status, bonuses, podium places, it is a theft of someone’s honest and fierce running efforts that suddenly aren’t good enough. Elite or non-elite, the question of being “good enough” will run through one’s mind.

With the new information brought to light of additional disrespect to our racing community here in NYC and across the nation, I implore anyone who has bought a bib and could not run in with it at a race to call for the banning of Kelly. She clearly broke the rules and unapologetically stated she isn’t remorseful for using someone else’s bib in the race that brought her public attention in the first place. She has stated that she does not regret it, and has proven it as she illegally bandits other courses across the country. Her actions should not go without consequence, as NYRR rules clearly state that she should have been DQ’d & suspended from the 20+ races she has run in NYC since. We have all had races that we paid for that we could not race, that do not allow for transfers. The majority of the running community is an honest community, and would not sell or give away their bib as it is against the rules. We’ve all been injured, we’ve all had emergency situations come up, we have all wished we didn’t have to waste the money. But we followed the rules, and let the race go, no matter how hard it was.

Some of those races are certainly more meaningful, like the Boston Marathon. The BAA has no tolerance for cheating. Many have been caught, and banned for life. Yes, life. As Oiselle has called out cheaters for a lifetime ban, keeping a cheater in a prominent position on their team is hypocritical. Especially since Kelly’s public goals have been to prove to herself that she can achieve a BQ (Boston Qualifying time). Ask anyone that has qualified for Boston – that honor is a privilege, it is earned through your qualified effort for your age or fundraising for a charity. The title of being a Boston marathoner is sacred in the sport of running, and the goal of a BQ is elusive to many. I wouldn’t want an admitted cheater to be racing alongside me if I ever qualified for Boston. I would want to know that I worked hard and gave it everything I had to be there on the starting line by doing everything right, and that the others alongside of me had done the same.

The worst cheaters are the ones that are so narcissistic that they do not believe they were wrong in their actions. Email results@nyrr.org if you agree.

I stand for the love of the sport. #BanKellyK

One love. Run love. Xo.

 

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Published by

ayshamirza

Aysha is a sometimes writer, full-time cheerleader for #TrackNation who has an affinity for modeling on high-fashion runways in Vogue and manages to coach Kara Goucher on the art of the selfie in her spare time. Her educational background involves a serious love of science and medicine, with a dual-degree in Cell Biology & Neuroscience/Psychology, and accompanying research in Stem Cell Biology. She is based in NJ/NYC and currently coached by Rob DeCarlo. Her most epic run was her first marathon, NYC 2013. But her heart is rooted in racing 5ks, cross country and as a miler on the track. Current dreams include racing at the Olympic Trials exhibitions one day. Oh, and a BQ/Boston Marathon when she backs off the return to speed. You can tweet her some love and contact her on Twitter.

One thought on “When You #SpeakOut Against a Cheater”

  1. I mean, Oiselle is pretty much a sham anyway. They just confirmed it by sponsoring a #bully like Kelly. I remember when the story first came out of her illegal run where she crudely made sexual remarks towards unconsenting men, if it was reversed and she were a man, one of those women probably would have sued for sexual harassment for posting her picture with those captions. Instead, she set all women back by not only being rewarded, but given a fake career off of this. I’ve avoided her since then, so I was surprised to see she has flourished in the community after this. Just sucks, and shows that our society is more concerned with fake reality than integrity. Sorry you were collateral damage, but your integrity is worth more than some sh!tty Oiselle affiliation.

    Liked by 5 people

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