Molly Huddle's .08 of a second win over Joyce Chepkirui at the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon on March 20 sparked controversy because the women had equal finishing times and alleged physical contact was involved (video below).
Both Huddle and Chepkirui completed the 13.1 miles in 1:07:41, but the judges ruled after the shoulder-to-shoulder finish that Huddle won by less than one second, LetsRun reports. And with just a few strides from the finish line, Huddle can be seen stretching her left arm out, appearing to block Chepkirui. Kenya's Chepkirui can be seen running at the same pace as Huddle during the race's final feet.
Huddle spoke about the controversy with Sports Illustrated on March 25:
The response to the race and the finish has definitely been mixed. It has been upsetting to me because I have a lot of respect for Joyce, especially after a great race between us the year before at the NYC Half. It was really just that I was focusing on the line, the lean and getting over the tape as was Joyce, who was running up into my backswing.
It was an honest finish between two women competing really hard to win a prestigious race. I officially want to say there was no intent on my part to cheat or obstruct Joyce. I would never do that. I’m not a win-at-any-cost athlete and it’s been gnawing at me that that has been the story that has taken on a life of its own from the last few steps. I feel it’s been distracting me from things this week and it was kind of important to voice what happened rather than ignore it because it was a misunderstood incident.
...I tried to take the last tangent when I saw it open up at the last minute. From there, we had 150 meters left to go, according to the technical meeting. I just went all-out at that point because I got a half-step lead on the turn. I didn’t know how close she was until my arms went back. I was leaning at that point already so I didn’t even know which side of me she was on. I knew it would be close and I was swinging myself over the line.