The director of the New York City Marathon denied reports that runners will receive cash prizes in the race but admitted the practice of paying amateur runners is widespread.
The denial came after a New York Times report that as many as 20 winning runners would receive up to $14,000 each in under-the-table prize money in the marathon, to be run Oct. 26.
Marathon director Fred Lebow, president of the New York Runners Club, said the sponsors of most amateur races pay large bonuses to attract good runners and have done so for more than 50 years, even though paying prize money or payment of fees to cover basic expenses for amateurs is prohibited by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. Runners who accept such gifts can lose their amateur status, making them ineligible for other amateur competition and from participating in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Mr. Lebow said trophies will be the only prizes given in the marathon. Pressure for athletes to seek races that pay is particularly strong in the United States, he said, because unlike many European countries, there is no government support for amateur athletes here.