Bill Brett/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Rosie Ruiz became synonymous with cheating after being stripped of her medal in the 1980 Boston Marathon.

By Jenna West
August 08, 2019

Rosie Ruiz, famous for cheating in the 1980 Boston Marathon, has died at the age of 66, according to an obituary posted on the site of a West Palm Beach funeral home. The obituary says Rosie M. Vivas, the name she went by later in life, died on July 8 after fighting cancer for over 10 years.

Details from Vivas's obituary matches what's known about Ruiz, who was born on June 21, 1953, in Havana, Cuba, before moving to Florida as a child. Both studied at Wayne State College and moved to New York to work before later returning to Florida.

Ruiz's infamous story took off after seemingly winning the Boston Marathon, but many people quickly doubted her victory after noticing her nearly sweat-free shirt when she crossed the finish line. Other runners and spectators didn't remember seeing her on the course during the race's first 25 miles.

In a post-race interview with reporters, Ruiz further raised suspicions when she was unable to answer simple questions about her training for the race.

Reporter: What do you attribute that improvement in time to?

Ruiz: I don't know. 

Reporter: Have you been doing a lot of heavy intervals?

Ruiz: Um...somebody else asked me that. I'm not sure what intervals are. What are they?

Reporter: Intervals are track workouts that are designed to make your speed improve dramatically and if you went from a 2:56 to 2:31, one would normally expect that you do a lot of speed work. Is someone coaching you or advising you?

Ruiz: No...I advise myself. 

A few days later, witnesses said they saw Ruiz run onto the course from the sidelines near the final mile, according to Time. The Boston Marathon revoked Ruiz's medal and named Jacqueline Gareau of Québec, who initially finished second in 2:34:28, as the winner.

New York City Marathon officials also discovered Ruiz cheated in the 1979 race to qualify for Boston. She finished 23rd in the women's division with a time of 2:56:31, but video cameras didn't capture her in shots along the course. The Boston Globe reported a woman told the media that she rode the subway with Ruiz to the finish line area in New York.

Ruiz repeatedly denied cheating in either race.

In 1982, Ruiz was charged with stealing $60,000 from the New York real estate company she worked for. She only spent one week in jail and was sentenced to five years of probation. She was later charged with trying to sell two kilograms of cocaine to an undercover detective in Miami in 1983 and received three years of probation, according to an article from the Associated Press. The article also said Ruiz was married at that time, living in West Palm Beach and had changed her last name to Vivas.

Vivas's obituary said she is survived by her brother Robert Ruiz, her domestic partner Margarita Alvarez and their three sons.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)