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Infamous Boston Marathon Cheater Rosie Ruiz Dies at Age 66

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2019

BOSTON -  APRIL 21:  Rosie Ruiz #W50 is supported by Boston police officers moments after crossing the finish line as the apparent women's race winner of the 84th Boston Marathon held on April 21, 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Ruiz was later stripped of her race title after it was determined she had not run the entire race.  (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
David Madison/Getty Images

Rosie Ruiz, who went by Rosie M. Vivas, died of cancer on July 8, according to an obituary from the Dignity Memorial funeral home

Ruiz made national headlines in 1980 when she won the Boston Marathon but was found to have cheated and later had her title stripped.

According to Jenna West of SI.com, Ruiz appeared to have won the race but "many people quickly doubted her victory after noticing her nearly sweat-free shirt when she crossed the finish line." Others said they "didn't remember seeing her on the course during the race's first 25 miles."

The dramatic improvement on her previous marathon time also raised suspicions, which were only compounded when Ruiz told a reporter in a post-race interview she didn't know why she'd improved, didn't know what interval training was and said she wasn't being advised by a coach.

Race organizers later discovered Ruiz's Boston Marathon qualifying time resulted from her cheating in the New York Marathon, riding the subway to cut out a part of the course, according to Jennifer Latson of Time. She also was granted participation in the New York Marathon despite applying after the deadline, granted an exception after she claimed she had a brain tumor.

She ran afoul of the law after her racing days, per West. In 1982, she was charged with stealing $60,000 from a real estate company and served a week in jail and five years probation. In 1983, she was charged with selling two kilograms of cocaine to an undercover detective and was given three years of probation.

Ruiz was diagnosed with cancer more than 10 years ago. She and her partner Margarita Alvarez had three sons.