The athletes at the centre of the Irish National Marathon title controversy - Gary O’Hanlon and Freddy Sittuk, have between them won every Pat the Baker Longford Marathon since 2012.
Kenyan-born Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC) finished fourth in last Sunday’s Dublin marathon and was declared Irish National Marathon champion. However, he has since been stripped of that title with Gary O’Hanlon taking the crown.
O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers AC) ran a personal best of 2:18:52 to finish 11th overall in the Dublin marathon and as the first Irish finisher across the line he was deemed National Champion.
O’Hanlon has won the Pat the Baker Longford Marathon in 2017, 2016 and and 2012, while Sittuk was the winner in 2013, ‘14 and ‘15.
Sittuk was twice runner-up to O’Hanlon (in ‘16 & ‘17), and similarly, O’Hanlon was twice runner-up to Sittuk in (‘13 & ‘14).
Check out the Longford Marathon results HERE
Suffice to say, the pair are very familiar foes and they have developed a great rivalry over the years.
Following a rule passed at the 2016 Athletics Ireland Congress, an athlete with an unbroken 6 months' residency in Ireland immediately prior to the championship, is eligible to compete for the National Championship title and medal positions.
Sittuk was confirmed as eligible by his club prior to the event, but following a meeting of the Competition Committee of Athletics Ireland, he was stripped of the title.
Athletics Ireland’s Competition Committee Chairman John Cronin said: "The information initially received by the association indicated that Freddy Sittuk was eligible and, therefore he was deemed champion on Sunday.
"Once we received information from the club stating that the athlete had, in fact, not met the criteria, the committee met to discuss the situation and Gary O’Hanlon has been deemed marathon champion.
"The process for confirming residency eligibility for National Championships has, up to this event, worked well but the fact that Gary was not awarded this title and his gold medal on Sunday is very regrettable.
"We do, however, look forward to presenting Gary with his Championship title and medal shortly."
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