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Nov 8, 2020

For Frank Lara, there is so much bittersweet about winning his first national title. He earned his first podium in a US road championship less than a year after turning pro. He was ecstatic with his second-place finish on the day only to find out that he was beaten by a drug cheat with a prior suspension for using EPO.

Still, he celebrated while the world was outraged for him, and he waited patiently for the much needed 2nd place prize money to supplement his part-time paycheck. The prize money never came. He forgot about it and moved on to prepare for other races with the Olympics on his mind. Meanwhile behind the scenes, the process was working for him.

The runner who crossed the line first that day tested positive for anabolic agents on race day and later in an out-of-competition test. The US Anti-Doping Agency was hard at work to confirm the adverse results and deliver a new 8-year sanction to the athlete in question.

Then more than 6 months after race day on the day before his birthday, Frank found out via a text from a friend that he was the deserving champion of the US 15K championship on that day in March. He didn’t know how to feel with his top-of-the-podium moment already stolen. He did the only thing he could control and hammered a training run the next day on the famous Magnolia Road, earning a fastest-known-time (FKT), before celebrating quietly with friends.

Frank joins Chris and Kara in this episode to talk about the up and down emotions of it all. Plus, he shares his full story from being born in Mexico City to moving to Houston at the age of 5 to his “slow” starting in running before attending Furman University and ultimately joining the Roots Running Project in Boulder. Now, Frank Lara is officially a national champion with that first-place prize money in hand and all eyes on Tokyo 2021.

While it’s tragic that Frank lost his winning moment in March, we can celebrate and find hope in the fact that the process worked, and clean sport prevailed in this story. It’s so important that we keep fighting for young athletes just like Frank. Thanks to him for so graciously sharing his story.