The Athletics Congress, which oversees long-distance running in the United States, will investigate reports that prize money was paid to some top finishers in last year's New York City Marathon.

At a meeting last Sunday in Colorado Springs, officers of the Athletics Congress discussed the prize-money structure reported in The Washington Post, and decided to ask the New York Metropolitan Association to begin an investigation.

Acording to Athletics Congress President Jimmy Carnes, "Normally, the local body will investigate without ever being called on by the national body. In this case, we happened to be meeting, and we took action to request that they investigate."

Aldo Scandura, the Athletics Congress treasurer, who is from the New York area, will head a five-or-six-person committee made up of members of the New York association.

Scandura, who is also the Internaternal Amateur Athletics Federation representative in charge of cross-country racing, said, "The board of officers met and has authorized me to appoint a special committee in New York to investigate the allegations in the story. The committee will be established at the next meeting of the metropolitan association on April 27."

Carnes said he hoped the committee would have its final report ready, with recommendations for any appropriate action by early June. The next meeting of the IAAF is scheduled for July 21.

According to Scandura, Rule 12 of the IAAF rule-book states that athletes may receive "prizes of a lasting nature . . . not to exceed the value of $250 in American currency."

Prize money for top finishers in the New York Marathon reportedly totaled about $50,000.

Cash prized were reportedly offered ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for the top 10 male finishers and from $1,000 to $5,000 for the top five women.

Winner Bill Rodgers did not accept the reported $10,000 first prize. But sources said he received about $10,000 in guaranteed expense money. Two runners who finished among the leaders confirmed the prize money system and that payments had been made.

If the allegations are true, Scandura said, the recommendation would be "for suspension. It has to be. It's mandatory." But, he added, "The facts are not there at the moment. No one has come forward to confess sins."

Asked what he thought of the chances of proving the existence of the alleged prize money structure, Carnes said, "Not good."

Scandura, who favors strictly amateur competition, said that "Running is a sport in transition. At first, it stated without competition for prizes and then gravitated to where we are today.

"The principle of giving prizes is already established," he added. "It's a question of whether the prize structure should be changing."