A spokesman for the nation's governing body for amateur track and field indicated yesterday that it will investigate prize money payments to top finishers in the last year's New York Marathon as described in a story that appeared in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post.
"there's been no official meeting on it yet," Pete Cava, press information director of the Athletics Congress said. "but our officers will be in Colorado Springs this weekend for the United States Olympic Committee meetings, and I'm sure the subject of an investigation will come up."
The Post story reported that approximately $50,000 in prize money had been paid to some top finishers in the New York race last October. Such payments would violate the recipients' amateur status and conceivably could jeopardize their participation in future races.
"if it's as flagrant as you say it is, then certainly, it will be looked into," Athletics Congress Executive Director Ollan Cassell told The Post Sunday. "sure, we have to investigate if it's true."
Cassell could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Cava was unsure what direction an investigation would take.
"i presume they would interview the runners and officials who were named in the story, and I think they would want to talk to the organizers," he said. "other than that, I'm not sure what they would do."
Fred Lebow, director of the New York City Marathon, denied yesterday that "under-the-table" money totaling some $50,000 was paid to the top finishers in the 1979 race.
In a statement, Lebow, president of the New York Road Runners Club, said, "the New York Road Runners Club has paid expenses for many top runners from around the world to compete in the New York City Marathon. Our figures reflect that last year our club paid approximately $57,000 to help about 60 athletes come here and run in the marthon."
"we have not awarded prize money to any runner. We have, however, for some time, publicly urged the International Amateur Athletic Federation (the world governing body of track and field) to allow us to make the New York City Marathon an open competition, giving us the opportunity to award prize money which would not jeopardize the amateur standing of the runners," the statement concluded.