From the Vault: Biggest Loser Contestant Pulls a Rosie Ruiz

daneEditor’s note: Away on business, so enjoy these tales from the archives for the next few days. Will be back with new material on Friday.

It isn’t often you get both the reality-TV and running worlds angered about the same thing, but the scandal involves Dane Patterson, who was voted off this week’s episode of The Biggest Loser. Each episode ends with an update of how the eliminated contestant has fared since leaving the show. Patterson, who set a show record by losing 100 pounds in eight weeks, was shown completing the Arizona Desert Classic marathon with his wife on January 31. A caption read that Patterson ran the marathon in 3:53.

I watched the show and thought it was strange, because the televised footage didn’t seem to show them traveling at a sub-9 minute mile pace. It certainly seemed to be an amazing feat, considering Patterson was still in the 300 lb. range.

As it turned out, it was too good to be true. Race participants revealed on various web sites and blogs that the Pattersons actually completed the marathon in 5:53, but only after being driven in an NBC van over an extended stretch of the course so that they could cross the finish line under six hours. Race directors were notified the same day and the Pattersons were disqualified. None of this was mentioned on the NBC broadcast.

NBC issued a statement, and is conducting an investigation. Meanwhile, the press is starting to run with the story, and the NBC Biggest Loser message board already has a couple hundred comments under the heading, “The Great Marathon Debacle.”

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times weighs in with the latest version of what happened.