FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Long-Distance Runners Abel Mutai And Ivan Fernandez Anaya?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook purportedly shows a photo of long-distance runners Abel Mutai and Ivan Fernandez Anaya.

Verdict: Misleading

While the story of Fernandez Anaya choosing to direct Mutai to the finish line rather than use the opportunity to win the race himself is real, the Facebook post appears to have included some embellished quotes. The photo shows runners Mohamed Farah and Galen Rupp, not Mutai and Fernandez Anaya.

Fact Check:

The lengthy Facebook post recounts a touching story of sportsmanship in which Fernandez Anaya of Spain directed Mutai of Kenya to the finish line of a race the two were competing in after the latter prematurely stopped, thinking he had already crossed it. In doing so, Fernandez Anaya sacrificed a chance to win the race himself.

Included in the post is a photo of two runners embracing. It also attributes several quotes to Fernandez Anaya such as “My dream is that one day we can have some sort of community life where we push ourselves and also others to win” and “What would be the honor of this medal? What would my mother think of it?”

While Fernandez Anaya did, according to the Huffington Post and El Pais, choose to point Mutai toward the finish line rather than pass him during the end of a December 2012 race in Spain, many of the quotes credited to the Spanish runner in the post appear to be embellishments. The photo included in the Facebook post also does not depict Fernandez Anaya or Mutai.

A reverse image search traced the picture of two runners embracing back to Getty Images, where the caption states it shows Olympic runners Mohamed Farah of the U.K. and Galen Rupp of the U.S. The description reads, “Mohamed Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal in Men’s 10,000m Final with Galen Rupp of the United States on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England.”

A photo of Fernandez Anaya helping Mutai during the December 2012 race in Spain can be found in an El Pais article reporting on his display of sportsmanship, and footage of the interaction can be found on YouTube. (RELATED: Does This Image Show The US Women’s Soccer Team Kneeling During The National Anthem At The Tokyo Olympics?)

El Pais quotes Fernandez Anaya as saying the following about his decision to not bypass the confused Mutai:

I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.

The supposed remarks, including the one about “community life,” do not appear in the El Pais article. Fernandez Anaya also wrote about the 2012 race on his blog, but neither a description of such an interaction with a reporter nor the alleged quotes can be found in a translation of his post.

“Of course it would be another thing if there was a world or European medal at stake,” El Pais quoted Fernandez Anaya as saying about the race. “Then, I think that, yes, I would have exploited it to win… But I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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