ROB YOUNG TRANS-AMERICA RUN ATTEMPT

2 October 2016 Comments 24

As some readers are aware, earlier this year an athlete supported by SKINS, Rob Young of the UK, attempted a record Trans-America run attempt. He didn’t make it, pulling out of the attempt after 36 days citing an injury.

That attempt attracted attention. On a totally unrelated subject, I was presented with a lot of passionate posts from people about Rob Young’s run on my blog. Some of the comments accused Rob, as well as a SKINS staff member, of colluding to falsify his running times.

As a result, I commissioned an investigation into the run from two independent experts, Professor Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado and Professor Ross Tucker of the University of the Free State. Their report was received last week. You can find it here.

The bottom-line?

Roger and Ross found that they could identify “no alternative explanation” for the data that had been presented and examined to them other than Rob Young received “unauthorized assistance” in his run attempt.

This saddens me greatly. As a brand, SKINS stands for all that is good about sport – integrity, fair play, level playing field, the true spirit of competition. Obviously, ‘unauthorized assistance’ doesn’t fit with our brand values.

The conclusion reached by Roger and Ross is one I accept.

However, it’s also the case that Rob continues to vigorously defend himself. He maintained to Roger and Ross that he ran every step of the way, but he made mistakes with the collection and handling of data.

Nonetheless, we have terminated our relationship with Rob Young.

SKINS role

Another part of the report concerns the management of the run.

I accept the Pielke/Tucker findings that SKINS, as a company, could have managed this better by having an appropriate level of management and coordination of the run.

This is not a reflection on the lone SKINS staffer who was present, because it is clear now that it is unfair to expect one person to perform social media duties, support crew and run management and monitoring activity alone, all whilst driving the support vehicle.

We have learned our lesson from this and will ensure that any future attempt is staffed appropriately.

Commentary

There is one more matter to mention.

We also had a look at the tenor and pathology of the many comments I received over three blogs in relation to this matter. While I’d love to think my musings on Watercooler are widely read, they don’t generally attract huge numbers of commentary.

Some of the comments posted were genuine. They dealt with the issue at hand – the run attempt – and presented, or pointed to, data in support of the commentary. Some of the same people who commented on the blog contributed submissions to Roger and Ross for their consideration.

Funnily enough – considering I would never dare attempt to try ultra-running and wasn’t in the USA at the time, let alone the support vehicle – most of the comments were directed at me personally.

An analysis showed that they were largely sourced to two IP addresses, one of which was geolocated to the principal marketing agency of a major sports brand competitor.

Of course this may be sheer coincidence, but if it’s not, it’s actually quite flattering.

It tells me that SKINS and I are getting cut-through in our advocacy of better governance in sport, in a drug-free sport, and some actual leadership in sport – and that can only be a good thing. It encourages me to keep going!

Last word

Ultimately, I believe all parties entered this endeavour with the best of intentions. I am sure it is disappointing to everyone involved that it has finished in this fashion.

However, it doesn’t alter my belief that sport has the power to achieve great things for individuals and for society. My passion for this remains undiminished and we at SKINS will continue to support those who share this belief.

In closing, I want to say thank you to Roger Pielke and Ross Tucker for their willingness to conduct this investigation, the quality and comprehensiveness of their report, and the clarity of their findings. I really appreciate their analysis, fine minds and professionalism.

My thanks also to the members of the running community who contributed to the investigation with their submissions, some of which were extraordinarily detailed. I appreciate your commitment to being part of the process to conduct, and report on, an independent review.

Once again, a link to the report is here, and SKINS media statement today is here.

24 comments on "ROB YOUNG TRANS-AMERICA RUN ATTEMPT"

  1. Michael Connor on 2 October 2016

    Great! BTW, how long does RY have to remove your logo from his site and materials?

    “However, it’s also the case that Rob continues to vigorously defend himself. He maintained to Roger and Ross that he ran every step of the way, but he made mistakes with the collection and handling of data.”

    He’s not the first cheat to deny it. Anyone who reads the report should see this paragraph as code for “he’s a liar too”. Nevermind he can’t even describe the “mistakes”. The fact is he did collect data, and it shows absurdly low cadence numbers at high speeds, only at night, only when unobserved. What kind of “mistake” is that? No amount of “I didn’t pay attention, I am very childlike, I did this for the children” can explain it away.

    “This is not a reflection on the lone SKINS staffer who was present… all whilst driving the support vehicle.”

    So I take it Michael is still in your employ? A real shame. Someone your company pays basically ran this whole scam? As a boss I’d be irate and I’d feel like I was robbed, literally – Young’s stipend and goods, all costs, Speicher’s salary over the time frame, etc. Plus damage to your brand’s reputation. How likely is it to drive a vehicle for HUNDREDS of miles at 5-10mph, all the while COMPLETELY unaware of whether the person you are traveling with is inside or outside the vehicle? Sometimes I really think it’s all a big marketing thing. Michael Speicher’s resume now reads: “Summer 2016: Engineered a viral social controversy with Rob Young, leading to 5000% increase in CEO blog traffic and 100 fold increase in SKINS brand Twitter mentions.”

    The problem with this attempt was not “mistakes with data collection” or “understaffing”. It does not take 10 people to use a GPS watch. The problem was excessive, high speed, repeated riding in a recreational vehicle, period. I think that if this is avoided in the future, then all of the problems and criticism that plagued SKINS here, would also be avoided.

    “Ultimately, I believe all parties entered this endeavour with the best of intentions.” I am surprised someone who read the report can come away with that belief… Behavior reflects intention. Someone who can only behave honestly when they are being audited 24/7 really doesn’t deserve the deference you show here.

    “My thanks also to the members of the running community who contributed to the investigation with their submissions, some of which were extraordinarily detailed.” You’re welcome. Frankly, I’m sorry you had to shell out for the investigation. I believe the community already produced exceptional, clear analyses; and had we had Young’s cadence data, we surely could have handled that also. I understand the investigation also adds a certain legitimacy and authority too, which is valuable.

    Despite my criticisms, I do want to say that on the whole I really appreciate your commitment to your company’s values and your follow through on this. Thank you.

    Best,

    Mike

  2. Paul A. on 2 October 2016

    Just a quick note to say thanks and express my appreciation for how you handled this. I’m a lawyer who does corporate internal investigations for a living. It’s rare to see a company go to this trouble and expense if it’s not absolutely necessary. A shame you were conned by Rob, but you really couldn’t have handled it better. Extremely impressed.

  3. Darren Woodward on 2 October 2016

    I would suggest that SKINS biggest mistake was signing him up on self professed records and runs. His back story on sport is full of holes, and his observed runs are mediocre at best, a bit of due diligence, such as asking for proof of his pb at various distances would have saved SKINS and Jaimie both time and money.

  4. Garry C on 2 October 2016

    I think it reflects well on Skins & yourself as boss that you looked into this matter so thoroughly. I think all levels of life and business are capable of being conned when we mix our passion with work. It’s a lesson for us all. Running isn’t any less susceptible.

  5. John Bidwell on 2 October 2016

    You should have had Dick Y-S do the running instead !

    Best wishes,

    JB

  6. David Warady on 2 October 2016

    I have not seen one competitor that Rob ran against, for 140 days, in winning the 2015 Race Across USA, or one person that visited and watched him run over a period of days, like myself, nor one crew person, that aided him every single day, call him a cheater. As far as I can tell, everyone that has called him out did not know him and/or have never seen him run competitively.

    Was anyone polled or queried from the 140 day race Rob ran in in 2015 to assess if they ever saw him cheat in that race? Surely, if Rob cheated, there would have been incidents of it during that, almost 1/2 year race, where he was scrutinized all day long, 6 days per week.

    I won the 1992 Runner’s World, 3000 mile, 64 day Trans America footrace and watched Rob run in New Mexico for almost one week. Never did I see him cheat.

    http://raceacrossusa.org/results/
    .

  7. Darren Woodward on 2 October 2016

    No David he was not scrutinized all day long, he would Sprint off out of sight and reach checkpoints before the officials arrived. However none of that explains the massive discrepancies on stride length that only happened on his unobserved fast runs, but not on his very slow observed one’s. How gullible are you exactly, this is pure data provided by Rob.

  8. David Warady on 2 October 2016

    Darren Woodward – Opinions do not have equal merit. Yes, we have freedom of speech and expression. You are entitled to have an opinion of your own. This right does not confer greatness, quality, or merit to your opinion. I could be of the opinion that the moon is made of cheese. I’m entitled to that opinion under the law. Does my opinion have merit in this case? No, it doesn’t, and I am now open to debate or even ridicule by someone with a better opinion. Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t make it true or reasonable.

  9. Darren Woodward on 2 October 2016

    David you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. He cheated, the data could not be clearer, those with opinions based on seeing him run a bit at mediocre events are basing it on opinion, I was basing it on opinion, but that is trumped by the facts. He cheated, what other possibility do the facts present?

  10. David Warady on 2 October 2016

    Darren Woodward – Opinions do not have equal merit. Yes, we have freedom of speech and expression. You are entitled to have an opinion of your own. This right does not confer greatness, quality, or merit to your opinion. I could be of the opinion that the moon is made of cheese. I’m entitled to that opinion under the law. Does my opinion have merit in this case? No, it doesn’t, and I am now open to debate or even ridicule by someone with a better opinion. Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t make it true or reasonable.

  11. ExpertKipWatcher on 2 October 2016

    David Warady – it is utterly irrelevant to the cheating in question anything that may or may not have happened in the past – whether Rob Young really has a 10K PB of 30:NN or whether he indeed cycled for a professional team, whether he got up one day and ran a Marathon distance 3 times in a couple of days with no prior training. The facts are that the cadence data he recorded is incompatible with someone running prior to his being observed continuously after which point it was.

  12. L Romero on 2 October 2016

    Why has Michael Speicher not been terminated?

    How can you possibly claim that he wasn’t aware of what was going on when he was riding in the RV with Rob?

    What happened to the Facebook video where Michael states that he has personally witnessed Rob running all of the miles that he claims?

    If, as your post suggests, Michael is still with your company, it makes one wonder what dirt he could have on SKINS that you don’t want aired to the media.

    Good job on selecting a competent investigation team… although it really wasn’t necessary. His guilt was already 100% established, thanks to the investigation that was carried out on the Letsrun forum and by the groundwork performed by the geezers.

  13. Twirlywoo on 2 October 2016

    Ultrarunning is not sport

  14. Paul A. on 2 October 2016

    David Warady, how do you explain:
    1) cadence data showing he was not taking enough steps to have run the whole way;
    2) his deletion/editing of data for the very most suspicious runs (but not others);
    3) that his pace and cadence data were those of an ultra runner once he was being observed (which shows that his equipment worked properly the whole time)

    I don’t know what he did on earlier runs (though I do know he wasn’t under constant observation) but it is clear he didn’t do this run. I also know that anybody in the world could have submitted statements or evidence for the investigators to consider. So let’s hear yours now. How do you explain the data, other than fraud?

  15. Lisa on 3 October 2016

    I echo those thanking you for funding this study! When I heard you had contracted with Ross Tucker and Roger Pielke to conduct an analysis I knew you were taking these accusations seriously as the are really the gold standard of well respected experts. There are some runners with amazing data-collection/analysis expertise who did a lot of crowd-sourcing research, but for the conclusion to really have weight, those are two names signing off have serious weight. I’m sorry that a goof-ball runner created a summer of intrigue, but for one positive outcome, I will confess I barely knew your company existed when this whole stunt-run started, and when I found you were sponsoring a cheater, I moved to disgust with it…you’ve really handled this as well as could be hoped. I’ll pick up some skins and give the a try as a show of appreciation for the way you’ve handled the post-run analysis.

  16. Seriously.... on 3 October 2016

    Have you checked the times your emloyee was driving the RV against when the cadence data was out? Did he not notice the runner taking 50m strides down the road…

  17. R.B.L. on 3 October 2016

    Jaimie,

    I commend you for the independent investigation. I applaud the work of Profs. Pielke and Tucker. Solid conclusions based on empirical data.

    But you turn a blind eye to your own employee involved firsthand in this farce? You excuse it as “understaffing”? Wow. Seriously wow. All 3 of them have responded with nothing but lies, denials, and excuses. I read their transcripts.

    I have no option left but to turn a blind eye to the next one of your essays about integrity, honesty, and transparency in sports because I’ll know it’s just empty words.

    Not impressed with Skins.

  18. Daz Reevell on 3 October 2016

    Looking in from the outside I have to applaud the approach taken by Skins and Jamie Fuller on this one.

    They stood back, appointed independent investigators to look into the TRANSCO attempt and didn’t rush to make a judgement without seeing the facts. A truly refreshing approach and is one that is very much appreciated by the running community as a whole.

    I am sure that Skins and JF have learned some valuable lessons from this experience and have come out the other side stronger.

  19. Ross on 3 October 2016

    David Warady, I suggest you speak to Gary Cantrell, he spent a substantial amount of time withRob and concluded there was no way he ran the distances he claimed out west.

    Skins guys. Great you did a report. But even your own investigators admit the existing online investigations were accurate and conclusive. You didn’t really need this investigation to know he cheated.

    The main gain was access to the cadence. thats been interesting, but really just confirmed everything that had already been calculated.

    What I cannot stand is the embargo and media spin. The embargo appears to have allowed Skins to ignore the issue of their staff member being involved with this and allows Skibs to divert from the complete lack of due diligence in their part. Anybody with a brain can see that Mr Youngs claimed PBs are nonsense. Yet you still sponsored him and gave him legitimacy. That’s on you! If you had but find a little checking you’d have seen that the guy was clearly not in the up and up.

  20. Darren Woodward on 4 October 2016

    Maybe he could also speak with Kevin O’Rourke and Andy Persson, two men who crewed the later stages of the supposed 373 mile run, both of whom think ththink he cheated this time, and doubt the 373 mile run was legitimate. Andy seems to have noted that the crews for the first 200 miles are given first names only and he has not been able to trace them, it looks as if he, Kevin and others were brought in to witness the last bits, to lend it legitimacy via independent witnesses, but no one can be traced who saw the start of it. I guess this is why this record is self claimed and completely inratified.

  21. R.B.L. on 4 October 2016

    Jaimie,

    I want to follow up as to why I posted a harsh comment above.

    When Asher Delmott first questioned Rob’s transcon run in June, two of Rob’s most vocal defenders were two British ultrarunners who had run with Rob on his alleged 377-mile non-stop, no-sleep run… Kevin O’Roarke (aka, “Coach Kev”) and Andy Persson. Both were insistent that Rob was for real because they had run long stretches with Rob at the end of that 377-mile run. In the letsrun thread, you can see in June where they posted repeatedly defending Rob.

    Now, both of them have publicly admitted they were deceived by Rob.

    On July 11, Kevin O’Roarke apologized and confessed that he had been conned and duped by Rob Young:
    http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?board=1&thread=7355147&id=7474073#7474073

    Now in October after the Tucker-Pielke report, Andy Persson apologized and confessed that he had been conned and duped by Rob Young:
    http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?board=1&thread=7355147&id=7735350#7735350

    That’s what honesty and integrity and transparency look like.

    And that is what we are not hearing from Rob Young, Dustin Brooks, or your employee Michael Speicher. Reread their transcripts. It’s all lies, denials, and excuses.

  22. Really? on 10 October 2016

    So the data PROVES he “received unauthorized assistance”, yet the SKINS employee Speicher is basically exonerated? Mr. Fuller, wake up and smell the roses, guess who he received unauthorized assistance FROM??? Gee, maybe the person who was in charge of driving the RV? My goodness. Until you address your company’s explicit involvement in this scam, this soft statement feels more like going through the motions than any “actual leadership in sport”.

  23. Pingback: Info 200 – Blog Post 5 | New Adventures in LIS

  24. James Williams on 10 February 2017

    If you are looking for a successful, experienced oil and gas construction company with a reputation for safety and on-time, and on-budget delivery, contact us https://horizonwt.com/ today.
    water sourcing

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*