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Marathons Reject Proposed Ranking System

November 11, 2003

LONDON (AP) _ Four of the world’s top marathons will not participate in a world-ranking system proposed by the main sponsor of the New York City Marathon.

Directors of the London, Chicago, Boston and Berlin races said Tuesday the plan devised by Netherlands-based bank ING would create problems with their sponsors. Race directors also said the company did not consult them.

``There’s a potential for sponsor conflict, or confusion at the very least,″ said Guy Morse, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which runs the Boston Marathon.

``But most importantly, we feel any ranking of this type really should be administered and promoted by an independent, noncommercial group.″

The plan was announced just over a week ago and calls for a ranking system based on results over two years in 16 selected marathons. Final rankings would be based on the best three results.

The top-ranked marathoner over the two-year span will win $1 million, with $700,000 divided among the next nine finishers.

The first eligible race is the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon on Sunday and the final is the 2005 NYC Marathon.

Morse questioned selecting only 16 marathons.

``It should include all viable marathons,″ he said. ``Why just a certain few? It just seems unfair to the rest of the marathoning world.″

Dave Bedford, race director in London, said the plan was an attempt by one ``company to associate itself with successful marathons with which they have no connection.″

``Whilst we have no objection to a world-ranking system, the proposed scheme has serious flaws,″ Bedford added.

Chicago director Carey Pinkowski said he was upset over not being consulted.

``Using an independent body is the only way to fairly and systematically implement such a ranking system,″ he said.

The IAAF, the world governing body of track and field, also said it was not consulted about the plan.

``The IAAF has its own world-ranking scheme which will start including road running events from next year,″ spokesman Nick Davies said.

Arjan Toor, manager of corporate sponsoring for ING, said the plan would go ahead despite the rejections.

``We think it’s a pity they don’t want to be involved in it,″ he said from Amsterdam. ``We’re not interfering with a specific marathon or the sponsors of that marathon. What we’re doing is creating this ranking to decide who is the best marathon runner.″

Several marathons already are interested in replacing the four that withdrew.

Among the races remaining are: Tokyo, Rotterdam, Paris, Olympic marathon, World Championship marathon, Brussels, Beijing, Amsterdam and New York.