Patti Catalano, one of the top female distance runners in the United States, and seven other runners were stripped to their amateur eligibility and suspended indefinitely by The Athletics Congress yesterday for accepting prize money at a Portland, Ore., race in June.

Twelve people had been charged with competing in an unsanctioned race, but this charge was dropped, thereby exonerating four-time Boston Marathon Winner Bill Rodgers and three others.

Catalano, Greg Meyer, Ed Mendoza, John Glidewell, Pete Pfitzinger, Benji Durden, Cindy Dalrymple and Ric Rojas also were suspended for keeping their winnings at the Cascade Run-Off, the first open race sponsored by the Association of Road Racing Athletes.

What this means, is that Rodgers and the other three cleared -- Herb Lindsay, Mike Layman and Jan Oehm -- will be able to compete in amateur races. The eight suspended runners will not be able to run in either the New York or Boston marathons, or any other TAC-sponsored or international event.

More than 6,000 people competed in the Cascade Run-Off. The 12 charged were the only ones among the top 15 men and top 10 women fineshers with TAC membership cards.

Rodgers said he expected the outcome of the decision, but vowed, "I will boycott the Boston race if Patti and the others are not allowed to compete."

Lindsay had accepted money, but placed his winnings put into a trust fund that he can draw on for training. This is subject to approval by the International Amateur Athletic Federation when it meets in Rome in December.