Investigation into Rob Young Run

1 July 2016 Comments 18

I am happy to announce the appointment of two independent experts to look at the issues that have arisen related to Rob Young’s attempt at the Trans-America run.

They are Professor Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, and Professor Ross Tucker at the University of the Free State, South Africa. You can find out more about each of them here or via their respective blogs or websites.

As I said in my previous blog post, I want to get to the bottom of this. I do not come into the investigation with any pre-determined outcomes.

If Rob Young did the wrong thing – by the running community, SKINS and, ultimately, himself – then there will be consequences. If there are lessons to be learned, SKINS will learn them. If the claims made against Rob are not accurate, then we will know this too.

It is integral to SKINS as a brand, and me as an individual, that we uphold and promote the true spirit of competition. I’ve written many times about how this is not just a tag line or marketing message. It is who we are. It shapes what we do.

The allegations raised against Rob Young are serious and, if proven, go against everything we stand for.

What happens next is in the hands of Professors Pielke and Tucker. They will be conducting their investigation from now until the end of August. SKINS will publish their report and our response to it, including any action we take, by the end of September.

SKINS’ statement on the Pielke/Tucker investigation is here. You can also find links to the Terms of Reference for the investigation, along with the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement from each of the investigators, and a copy of the contract between Rob Young and SKINS with commercially sensitive parts redacted.

You are invited to get in contact with Roger Pielke Jr or Ross Tucker and provide any information you wish as soon as possible as set out in the Terms of Reference. The central email to which they both have access is: Please feel free to contribute.

18 comments on "Investigation into Rob Young Run"

  1. Tony on 1 July 2016

    Great appointments. No doubt some will disagree. LOL.

  2. R Tucker on 1 July 2016

    This is really not an “independent” investigation. SKINS is providing the funding for this and as such that invalidates anything independent about it. It is an internal investigation.

    Mr Young has already been proven to be less than honest about many things, including his transcon attempt in the US. Example: claims of professional cyclist with Team Milram (with pictures of that claim on his website). The original pictures posted were not of Mr Young as has been proven completely by finding the original pictures and who the riders truly were in those pictures.

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  4. Mic Med on 1 July 2016

    I’ll second that this is now an “internal investigation” by definition. I’m curious why the choice of Professors as opposed to someone that is confident in their ability to read GPS data, wherein the majority of the evidence lies. Also can’t figure out why we wouldn’t shorten this to a one hour investigation and just have Mr Young post his TomTom data.

  5. Mike on 1 July 2016

    I’ll continue the golf analogy since that’s how this started on your blog.

    Imagine a golfer claims to have shot a 39 on a full round of 18. He amasses quite the fan group on Facebook, but real golfers are not having any of it.

    The golfer is known to have recorded his entire round with an HD GoPro. When pressed to prove his claims, he releases pixelated 240p jpegs from 12 of the holes which depict a putted ball maybe about to go in. Hardly sufficient to know what really happened along the course…

    Rob Young claims to have run superhuman paces, and then released spotty data stripped of heart rate and cadence.

    While this investigation is great, what we really need are just the damn videos (original TomTom gps data) and the thing would be solved in no time. I hope Mr. Young provides those as he indicated in your Terms of Reference, but something tells me there may be a hiccup with his data…

    Thanks for getting to the bottom of this. As you know, there are serious implications for SKINS given the presence of an employee on this likely-fraudulent attempt.

  6. Paul A. on 1 July 2016

    I’m an attorney who has led several independent internal investigations in the corporate context (major public companies). I’ve also published and spoken on the topic, including on forensic evidence preservation and the composition of investigative committees. I would advise those who smell conspiracy to think again. It’s also time to ratchet down the rhetoric. What else do you expect SKINS to do? A fair and thorough process takes time.

  7. Carsten on 2 July 2016

    When do people finally understand that GPS is useless as any form of evidence? I can create a GPS proof of any run at any pace easily just sitting in front of my computer at home. It’s a simple file. Even tempering with the original data directly off from the watch isn’t too difficult.

  8. Darren Woodward on 11 July 2016

    For me if he fails to provide the cadence data that hi watch automatically recorded and downloaded to the TomTom site then there is no further investigation needed. That would need to be manually stripped from the data to hide it, and and deletion from the TomTom website would surely be a deliberate act. After all why else would you strip the cadence from the gps file,which cannot be done accidentally,publish to your wife’s Strava account, then crop runs and publish to your own Strava account then delete the original download from you TomTom account, if the reason isn’t to disguise data that exposes you as a fraud. His watch recorded cadence, if it isn’t there he has gone to a lot of trouble to hide it. In my view the deliberate action of hiding it would close this case without even needing to look at his 1:12 elapsed time (best effort is not based on running time) half marathon at 8000ft, followed by a 15 minute break and a 1:15 half again on elapsed time not running time.

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  10. Chris Finill on 31 August 2016

    I ran across the USA in 2011.

    I am British and hate to see the reputation of British ultrarunning brought into question.

    Below is my recently published letter to Jason Henderson, the Editor of Athletics Weekly, the world respected British athletics magazine.

    Dear Jason

    As someone who ran across the USA coast to coast with Steve Pope back in 2011 I read this week’s Dip Finish feature on Rob Young with particular interest.

    The record for running across the US currently stands at 46 days by Frank Giannino – a world class performance by any standards representing roughly 65 miles per day. This record has stood for 36 years.

    Rob Young is surprised and hurt that there are people doubting the authenticity of his run up to the point when he dropped out about 2,000 miles into his attempt to break this record. In my view he shouldn’t be surprised, he should instead consider the facts.

    1) His athletic credentials as shown on Power of 10 show a marathon pb of 3.07, a half marathon pb of 91 minutes and a best parkrun time of 18.55 in 85 overall appearances. It is difficult for many to square this with an ability to run 65 -70 miles per day across the US often in the hostile and isolated conditions especially such as those offered by the far Western states.

    2) Despite these modest personal bests his own website claims a 10k personal best of 30.47. A far superior performance to anything verifiable on power of 10.

    3) He was by his account on track to break Frank’s record beyond halfway but unfortunately his mileage per day fell dramatically when his run was actually observed and his statistics came under the severe and sometimes hostile scrutiny of the US ultra running community.

    It is worth remembering that when Yiannis Kouros ran the first Spartathlon as an unknown in 1983 he won it so convincingly that established ultra runners wrongly assumed that he had cheated and he was therefore regarded with scepticism by many . His subsequent performances, under the microscope of scrutiny, proved his doubters wrong and cleared his name of suspicion. My fear is that Rob’s name will be clouded with similar suspicion until he comes up with an independently verifiable world class performance over 6 days or further. I understand that he intends to do just this in 2017 and we look forward to him performing at this level and will watch with great interest. Until he successfully performs when subject to this independent verification the doubts as to his authenticity will naturally and rightly remain.

    Chris Finill
    Harrow AC

  11. Mike Rossi on 2 September 2016

    I’ve run a parkrun with Rob so I know he can run fast. All this mudslinging does not prove that he can’t run. HE CAN RUN…….With my own eye I’ve seen for myself that he can run far and fast. Technology is not always infallible just look at the Amstrad em@iler phone… was rubbish. All I’m saying is he can run far and fast so just let him be free to help the kids.


  12. Bob on 6 September 2016

    When will the results be published?

  13. BobertYoung on 7 September 2016

    Rob has dropped out of EPIC12 and SKINS has released a statement with an optimistic outlook on the investigation:

    “We truly believe that Robert has done his attempt in an honest manner without
    cheating. One of our own Swiss-based employees was with Robert from the very start of the run and has reported regularly back to us that everything is above board”

    It seems that they are either 1) getting ready to throw both Rob and the SKINS rep under the bus or 2) they have been assured by the investigators that the investigation will whitewash Rob’s transcon attempt.

  14. Rachel on 29 September 2016

    It’s now the end of September… when will it be released?

  15. Charlie on 30 September 2016

    I’m also curious as to when the results will be published as 30th September is… well… now…

  16. James on 1 October 2016

    Midnight tonight UK London time infact.