A former Irish priest set to run the Virgin London Marathon for charity has been banned from the event after it emerged he disrupted the 2004 Olympic Marathon.
Neil Horan had been accepted to run in the London event on behalf of the St John's Ambulance. But after it emerged the former Irish priest had previously disrupted the 2004 Olympic Marathon by running onto the course and pushing runner Vanderlei de Lima into the crowd of spectators, Horan's race place has been denied.
During the 2004 event in Athens, Horan ran out on to the course and grabbed Vanderlei de Lima, almost certainly costing the Brazilian distance runner a gold medal. de Lima was leading the marathon at the time of the incident, which occurred four miles from the finish line. He went on to earn the bronze medal.
In a letter the head of fundraising for St John Ambulance, Tegan Jones, said, “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 remove you from the London Marathon 2014 team with St John Ambulance.”
Horan, who also ran onto the course during a Formula 1 race in 2003, was quoted in the Sunday Independent saying, “It’s nearly 10 years now since I disrupted a sporting event and I’ve said many times that I will never do anything like that again. I’m extremely upset at this decision.”