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Rosie Ruiz, Boston Marathon course cutter, dies at 66

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BOSTON (AP) — Rosie Ruiz, the Boston Marathon course-cutter who was stripped of her victory in the 1980 race and went on to become an enduring symbol of cheating in sports, has died. She was 66.

Ruiz, who was also known as Rosie Vivas, died in Florida of cancer on July 8, according to an obituary that made no mention of her Boston Marathon infamy. Running magazine first made the connection this week, a fitting end to one of the oddest chapters in the history of the race.

“It’s a colorful part of the Boston Marathon history, that’s for sure,” said Bill Rodgers, who won the men’s race that year and was immediately suspicious of the woman sitting next to him on the awards podium. “Poor Rosie, she took all the brunt of it.”

An unknown who didn’t look or act like she had just run 26.2 miles, Ruiz finished first in the women’s division in Boston in 1980 in a then-record time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 56 seconds. Even as she was awarded her medal and the traditional olive wreath, her competitors wondered how a woman they hadn’t ever heard of — or seen on the course — could have won.

“We knew that she had jumped in. We, who knew what the marathon was, we got it,” Rodgers told The Associated Press on Thursday. “She wasn’t sweating enough; she had on a heavy shirt; she didn’t know about running.

“I was with her the next day on TV, and she was just crying her head off,” Rodgers said, adding that he thought Ruiz wanted to confess. “If she had just said, ‘I’m sorry. I made a mistake.’ Runners — we all drop out of races — we would have understood.”

In an era before tracking chips and electronic checkpoints, race organizers used spotters to scribble down the bib numbers of runners going by. (They focused mainly on the men’s race.) Ruiz did not show up there, on videotape or in any of 10,000 photographs taken along the first 25 miles of the course.

Grilled by the Boston Athletic Association about her training methods and pace, she had no answers and did not seem to recognize terms that would be common for elite marathoners; she also could not identify landmarks she would have passed on the course. Two Harvard students soon came forward to say they saw her join the race near Kenmore Square, about a mile from the finish.

Ruiz was stripped of her title eight days after the race. Canadian Jacqueline Gareau was declared the rightful winner and brought back to Boston the next month to receive her due.

“People, they’re still sorry for me. But at the same time I think they should feel sorry more for her,” Gareau, who also came in second in Boston twice and had two other top-10 finishes, told the AP.

“Like everybody says, she’s part of my life. I cannot separate from her because of that story. She’s not a friend, but she’s been there so long.

“I wish she would have contacted me some time and said ‘I’m so sorry,’ but no,” Gareau said. “She would have probably had a better life and felt better.”

It was never established how Ruiz got to Kenmore Square, but the ensuing investigation showed she took the subway during the 1979 New York City Marathon to obtain her qualifying time for Boston.

The B.A.A. declined to comment on her death.

Ruiz always maintained that she won the race fairly and never returned the medal she received on race day. (Gareau was given a substitute.)

Ruiz vowed to run Boston again, to prove that she could do it.

She never did.

Gareau said she bumped into Ruiz at a 10K run in Miami in 1981, about nine months after Boston.

“She presented herself to me, she said ‘Hi, I’m Rosie Ruiz.’ I just said, ‘Hi,’” Gareau recalled. “She still told me she won. So I didn’t really discuss it with her.”

Born in Havana, Cuba, Ruiz came to the United States as an 8-year-old and settled with relatives in the Miami area. According to the obituary posted by the Quattlebaum Funeral, Cremation and Event Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, she studied piano at Wayne State College in Nebraska, moved to New York for five years and then back to Florida, where she worked as an accounts manager for a medical laboratory and as an accreditation specialist for the Better Business Bureau.

She married Aicaro Vivas in 1984 and the couple divorced 2 1/2 years later. According to the obituary, she is survived by her domestic partner, Margarita Alvarez, and a brother, Robert Ruiz.

The marathon shortcuts were not Ruiz’s only — or most serious — transgressions: The Boston Globe reported that she was arrested in New York on charges of stealing $60,000 in cash and checks from her employer in 1982. A year later, she was sentenced to three years of probation for cocaine trafficking.

“She had a family. She was a loving person. She studied music, which tells me she did some good stuff in her life. But then this part of her life was a little bit weird. Never admitting it, too,” Gareau said. “I would not like to be in her place.”

World silver medalist opts out of figure skating Grand Prix

Elizabet Tursynbaeva
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Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.

Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.

Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.

Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.

Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.

Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.

Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.

Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.

Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.

Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

MORE: Orser reacts to Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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Serena Williams battles, then rolls into French Open second round

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Serena Williams overcame early struggles, sweeping past countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0 to reach the French Open second round.

Williams, again eyeing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, started out like somebody who went 16 months between clay-court matches. She needed 74 minutes to take the first set from the 102nd-ranked Ahn, recovering twice after having her serve broken.

She dominated the second set in 27 minutes, advancing to play Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.

Williams, in long sleeves and tights, had 15 winners to 28 unforced errors in the first set in cloudy, sub-60-degree weather on Monday.

“I hate the cold. I’m from L.A. and I live in Florida,” Williams said before the tournament, which was postponed from its usual May/June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic. “For half my life I’ve never seen snow. Cold weather and me do not mix.”

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Williams also noted before the tournament that she was “not at 100 percent physically” and spent most of her time in France “rehabbing” without giving specifics. She took a medical timeout with a left Achilles injury in her last match, a U.S. Open semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka,

“I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could perform,” Williams said Saturday. “I don’t know any athlete that ever plays physically when they’re feeling perfect. That’s just something I think as athletes we have to play with.”

Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310. Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.

Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title and male record-tying 20th Grand Slam singles title later Monday.

The French Open first round concludes Tuesday with top-ranked Novak Djokovic in action.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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