Incoming New York Road Runners Chair Says Breaking Doping Rule Was Unintentional

After Lynch retired in 2000, the suspension became a largely forgotten detail on an otherwise stellar résumé that includes a career in real estate and development and a job serving as a senior adviser to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York for six years. In the years since she joined the Road Runners’ board in 2014 she has become a leading member. Earlier this year, the longtime chairman of the organization, George Hirsch, announced that Lynch would succeed him when he becomes chairman emeritus next June.

Other board members and executives at the organization said they did not know about Lynch’s doping suspension until The Times alerted them to it last month.

On Friday, N.Y.R.R. said it was reviewing its antidoping policies and guidelines “to ensure they continue to reflect the highest standards.”

The organization also said it had developed its Run Clean program and rules to focus on the invited professional athlete fields and top finishers. However, Peter Ciaccia, a former top executive at N.Y.R.R. who championed the organization’s antidoping policies, stressed testing and education for runners at every level during his tenure — even at weekend races without a professional field. Ciaccia’s push came as high-profile doping violations were becoming rampant in endurance sports and, in his view, threatening the future of distance running and the New York City Marathon.

The board is expected to discuss the matter in the coming weeks.

Some of the world’s leading antidoping officials have said that the N.Y.R.R. policy violates international antidoping rules, which state that once athletes have served a suspension that antidoping authorities have deemed appropriate, other sports organizations are not allowed to layer on additional penalties for the same offense.

The highest court in sports, the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sports, affirmed that rule in a 2010 case involving an Olympic champion who took a supplement that claimed to boost sexual performance. He faced an Olympic ban that stretched beyond the one doping authorities gave him, but the court ruled that the International Olympic Committee did not have the standing to mete out its own penalty.

No athlete has ever challenged the N.Y.R.R. policy, which the organization that oversees the world’s six most prestigious marathons also applies to the professional fields in those races. Antidoping officials say any athlete who decides to challenge it, Lynch included, would have a very strong case, but without a legal challenge, the policy can remain on the books.

Lynch may yet chair the organization, but unless the board changes its policy, she will not be able to run in its races.

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