Miruts Yifter, the Olympic 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion, informed officials of the New York City Marathon yesterday he will not compete in their race next Sunday, apparently in protest of the recent U.S. tour of a South African rugby team, the Springboks.
Race director Fred Lebow said yesterday he had received word from Yifter that he had decided to withdraw from the race after the Organization of African Unity recommended he not participate. The OAU strongly objected to the Springboks' controversial U.S. tour in September.
"He had never run a marathon before," Lebow said, "but I really think he would have been the only man in the field to challenge Alberto Salazar (the defending champion) in the race. I think Yifter could have done a 2:07, but we'll never know."
In another development, the New York Times reported yesterday that up to $14,000 in prize money will be offered under the table to the top men and women in the marathon. The paper said coaches for several runners acknowledged the top 12 men and top 10 women who finish the five-borough race Oct. 25 will receive prizes above the usual allowable expenses.
Lebow denied the money would be paid. He said the marathon "is not giving any up-front money."