California marathon winner stripped of title for receiving ‘unauthorized assistance,’ race officials said

(KTLA) – Esteban Prado of Fountain Valley, California, was the first to cross the finish line during Sunday’s Orange County Marathon, with a time of 2 hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds.

His first-place finish, however, didn’t end up counting.

Prado, 24, had his title stripped for violating race rules when it was revealed that his father rode along the 26.2-mile course on a bicycle and gave him water.

Prado was disqualified Sunday, shortly after being named the winner, race officials announced the following day.

“During yesterday’s Hoag OC Marathon, we were forced to disqualify a participant after it was confirmed they received unauthorized assistance from an individual on a bicycle, in violation of USA Track & Field rules and our race regulations,” race director Gary Kutschar said in a statement. “We take these rules seriously to ensure fairness and the integrity of our event for all competitors.”

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Kutschar, in his statement, did not specify which rule Prado was accused of breaking, though USA Track & Field rules prohibit competitors from receiving refreshments that were not carried from the start of the race, or obtained at an official refreshment station.

There are also rules against non-competitors accompanying participants along the race route.

Prado, through his mother, responded to a request for comment by saying he has moved on from the incident.

Race officials have also since named Jason Yang as the official winner of Sunday’s marathon, with a time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 11 seconds.

Yang, of San Pedro, told Nexstar’s KTLA that he did indeed see someone on a bike hand Prado fluids from a “flask”-like bottle. Still, Yang said he was conflicted about his own win.

“It’s a different feeling,” he told KTLA. “It doesn’t feel as good as a normal win should feel. I think this is getting blown out of proportion.”

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