Boston Marathon winner fights for $100,000 prize money after 10 years

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NEW YORK – Thousands of people filled the streets in Boston on Monday to watch the competitive and highly anticipated Boston Marathon, but here in New York, one runner in Riverdale has been patiently waiting for her cash out after winning that race 10 years ago.

There are simple pleasures in life Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba never takes for granted.

“This life is beautiful, it’s different,” said Deba in her first TV interview.

But for the last 10 years, there’s been one thing weighing on her mind.

“She took my chance. I lose so many things,” said Deba.

The Boston Marathon in 2014 changed the trajectory of her life and career. After six months of training and running 130 miles per week, Deba came in second place. She says the standing caused her to lose her Nike contract. But two years later, first place winner Rita Jeptoo was disqualified for doping and stripped of her title, leaving Deba as the first-place winner by default.

“I thought everything is to change after I hear the news … but nothing,” said Deba.

A decade later and she’s not only waiting for her trophy from the Boston Athletic Association, but the $100,000 she says she should’ve earned for her new first-place standing.

“You want sport to be pure, and OK, she won the race, she should get her compensation, but it clearly hasn’t been the simple,” said Jonathan Cane, Deba’s friend.

The Boston Athletic Association tells CBS New York they’ve been working to recover the money from Jeptoo and sent the following statement: 

“The Boston Athletic Association stands for clean sport and fair competition. Following the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the B.A.A. pursued reclaiming winnings from Rita Jeptoo. As the matter is still ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

In the 10 years of missed financial opportunity for the Ethiopian immigrant and her family, Deba now has two children with her husband and recently started training again. The decorated runner says her new dream is to show her kids anything is possible, even if the system seems broken.

“After kids, if I win, that’s my dream,” said Deba.

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