April 14, 2024

When twin brothers cheated their way to prize money

When twin brothers cheated their way to prize money
Sergio and Fika Motsoeneng

Every 45 minutes the two would swap places and, while one ran, the other would precede him on his bike and then be found at the next step to resume the race in his brother's place.

In 1999, during the 90th Comrades Marathon Africa, runner Sergio Motsoeneng finished ninth. He is about to receive the $10,000 prize offered to the first ten finishers when the first complaints arrive. 

Some runners claim they were never overtaken by Sergio and are suspicious of the man's muscle relaxation despite having run a good 89 km. Moreover, many witnesses claim to have seen him abandon the race several times and then return.

The first investigations begin and the photos inspected immediately reveal discordant elements: each time the athlete returned for the marathon, the watch was on a different wrist, first on the right, then on the left, then again on the right, and then again on the left.

Comparing the pictures more closely, despite a well-fitted cap on the face, one can distinguish some differences in the facial features and a scar on the right shin that sometimes mysteriously disappeared.

There is no longer any doubt about it: his twin brother Fika was also running with him. Every 45 minutes the two would swap places and, while one ran, the other would precede him on his bike and then be found at the next step to resume the race in his brother's place.

 They would slip into a portable toilet where the other was waiting and exchange caps, shoes, and bibs, all repeated several times along the route.

Once discovered, they were immediately disqualified, deprived of their prize money, and banned from participating in any ultramarathon for over five years.