Athens Olympics demonstrator barred from London Marathon

LONDON: Confession may be good for the soul but the former Irish priest who dramatically disrupted the closing stages of the 2004 Athens Olympic marathon has been barred from running in next month’s London Marathon. Neil Horan, 66, had been accepted to run in the London event on behalf of the St John’s Ambulance charity, having promised to atone for his most notorious act of sporting disruption. That came when he ran out on to the course and grabbed hold of Vanderlei de Lima in Athens a decade ago in an act that almost certainly cost the Brazilian distance runner a gold medal.
However, his hopes of completing ‘act of redemption’ in London were dashed when charity chiefs withdrew their offer of a place in the line-up having discovered his history of interfering in major sporting events and ‘extremist religious views’. In a letter quoted by Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper, Tegan Jones, wrote: “As you are aware you have been offered a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014 event with St John Ambulance. “It has been brought to our attention that you have a history of disrupting major sporting events and hold extremist religious views, which are not in line with St John Ambulance charity’s values. “Due to the above reasons we have no option but to retract this offer and to remove you from the London Marathon 2014 team with St John Ambulance.” Jones also promised to refund Horan’s £100 (EUR120) registration fee, but instructed him to return any sponsorship money he had collected to the donors. 

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Aaj Kal