A runner who came third in a marathon has admitted he caught a bus to complete the last six miles of the race.
At first Rob Sloan, 31, tried to claim training made him a "much better runner" this year after shaving 21 minutes off his previous time in the Salomon Kielder Marathon in Northumberland on Sunday.
The Sunderland Harrier initially denied cheating and was contesting his disqualification, claiming his GPS-enabled watch would prove he completed the race which circuits Kielder Reservoir.
But he finally came clean to the picturesque event's organisers - whose director is the athletics legend Steve Cram - by admitting he ran out of energy after 20 miles, hopped on a spectator bus, then completed the final section of the course and ended up in third place with a time of 2.25.01.
His suspect finish caused consternation with Steve Cairns, the genuine bronze-medal runner.
Mr Cairns, from Peebles, Scotland, wrote on the Marathon Talk website: "I was 3rd the whole way but somehow I crossed the line and was given 4th. When the 3rd place runner had finished doing his interview I asked him where he passed me. He said 15 miles, I said 'No you didn't' as I had a five-minute gap at that point. He said he did and walked off.
"I informed the organisers who had been told he had been seen getting on and off a bus and had got dropped off near the finish. I will get my prize but he has stolen my glory and my moment on the podium."
In a statement, the race organisers said Mr Sloan "had apparently made the decision to withdraw from the race at approximately 20 miles due to fatigue and after returning to the Leaplish Park area he decided to run the closing section of the course and crossed the finish line in third place".
It added: "This was rightly questioned by several witnesses including the rightful third place finisher Steven Cairns, who has been awarded his prize."
Cram said: "Mr Sloan made a mistake and has apologised to us for the confusion it has caused. We were sure our decision was correct at the time and are pleased that Steven Cairns has rightly been confirmed as our third place finisher."