Race organizers formally declared the 29-year-old Ethiopian the 2014 champion on Monday, two months after Kenyan rival Rita Jeptoo was stripped of the title and banned from international competition for four years for doping.
Buzunesh Deba also was recognized as the current course record-holder. Her blistering finish of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 59 seconds made it the fastest women’s race in Boston’s 121-year-old history, besting the previous mark of 2:20:43 set in 2002 by Margaret Okayo of Kenya.
“I feel great and really happy being named the 2014 Boston Marathon champion, the most prestigious marathon in the world, and I encourage all concerned stakeholders to work on a clean sport,” Buzunesh Deba, who lives in New York City with her husband and coach, Worku Beyi, said in a statement.
It was a long road to victory for Buzunesh Deba.
Her 2014 clocking in Boston was her fastest ever over the 26.2-mile span, and it catapulted her to the top of the sport.
But at the time, all the adulation — to say nothing of the first-prize winnings — went to Jeptoo, who was credited with the win in the first edition of the Boston Marathon since two bombs planted at the finish line killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others.
The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, says it’s still working to recover the $150,000 prize and $25,000 course record bonus.
“We’re exploring our legal options and will take whatever steps are reasonable and necessary,” BAA spokesman T.K. Skenderian said.
In October, the Court of Arbitration for Sport doubled Jeptoo’s initial ban to four years. The 35-year-old tested positive for EPO in a September 2014 sample given during training for the Chicago Marathon. She’s since been stripped of the 2014 Chicago title as well.
“Buzunesh Deba’s sub-2:20 performance in 2014 was a magnificent achievement,” BAA chief executive Tom Grilk said Monday. “To emerge victorious in the fastest women’s race ever run in Boston was remarkable. We look forward to awarding her the praise she rightfully deserves in 2017.”
Deba hasn’t yet said whether she’ll race Boston next year.
By William J. Kole (Associate Press)