A COUPLE accused of cheating the London Marathon by running with the same registration number on their vests should return their medal, fuming critics have said.
Monika Czarnecka, 41, and her husband Piotr, 42, were snapped together with the same numbers on during the race, which led to organisers launching an investigation.
It was later revealed that only Monika was registered to run and that Piotr reproduced her number so he could accompany her for “moral support”.
Monika has since apologised, saying she didn’t mean to cause any harm.
But their combined efforts sparked backlash in the running community, with enthusiasts insisting the couple should be banned from future events.
One wrote online: “Revoke her medal and ban them both from competing in any future London Marathon.
“London themselves have it in their rules that if competitors are found to be cheating, they’ll be banned.
“Let’s see if the organisers stand by the rules they created. If not, they’ll be an even bigger backlash.”
Another wrote on Twitter: “Ban her from further events.”
Another critic added: “This is awful! I waited years to run, I ended up getting a charity place as I’ve had no luck in the ballot.
“These pair need a ban from racing in future events.”
Monika earlier apologised for racing alongside her husband.
She told MailOnline: “I’m truly sorry for what we’ve done and didn’t want to cause any harm.
“The supporters were amazing, and their cheering and clapping helped me finish the marathon and it hurts to think that I’ve let them down.
“This was my first marathon and I needed Piotr’s support because I was worried sick that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.”
Piotr added: “It was all my idea and I take full responsibility for it. I know it’s wrong and I’m truly sorry, but I did what I did to support my wife.”
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He admitted he had missed out on the ballot and a place in the London Marathon himself.
Registration numbers get distributed to runners ahead of the race, which gave Piotr enough time to reproduce the 11250 number which was issued to his partner.
Eagle-eyed members of the running community spotted them and snaps of the pair running alongside each other were shared online.
A spokesman for the London Marathon said: “We are aware of the images that show two runners wearing identical numbers and we are investigating.
“We take any incident where a participant cheats or forges numbers extremely seriously.”
More than 80,000 people entered the London Marathon on Sunday.
Monika, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, finished in 21,697th place with a time of 4hrs 40 mins and 58 seconds.
The couple logged their marathon time on the Strava running app at first, but they soon deleted it as their actions began to be rumbled.
One angry response on Twitter said: “She’s suddenly got awfully shy on Strava when I mentioned this photo and all the others and suggested she hand back her medal.”
Another person tweeted: “I’ve had nine rejections in nine years. This kind of thing is incredibly frustrating. Next year is my last chance. I’m not holding out any hope.”
Another user said: “It’s not fair if we are paying around £200 for a charity place, stressing raising £2k, and you get virtuals or fakes on course really.”
Monika added: “We would not do it again. It’s as if a lynch mob is out to get us, it’s awful and has ruined my life. I just hope all this will be forgotten quickly.
“When I finished the marathon, I was so happy, I could not believe that I had done it. Maybe I was selfish in wanting Piotr there alongside me, but I wanted to share the moment with my husband. I’m really sorry that all this has happened.”