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Horan fined $3,600 for pushing marathon runner

Posted: Monday August 30, 2004 12:51PM; Updated: Monday August 30, 2004 3:42PM
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ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) -- A Greek court Monday gave a former Irish priest a suspended 12-month jail sentence and a $3,600 fine for pushing a leading Olympic marathon runner off the road, a court source said.

Dressed in a kilt and beret, Cornelius Horan grabbed Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima during Sunday's marathon race and pushed him into the crowd, possibly costing him victory, in the most serious security breach during the Aug. 13-29 Games.

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"He received a suspended sentence due to no prior criminal record and he was released," the source said.

He said the court banned Horan, who also interrupted the British Formula One Grand Prix last year by running onto the track, from entering any sports facility for three months.

Police had said the Irishman, who had the words "The Grand Prix Priest. Israel Fulfilment of Prophecy Says The Bible. The Second Coming is Near" pinned to his shirt during the incident, appeared drunk.

After being pushed into the crowd, a grimacing De Lima got away and rejoined the race, holding his leg, with around 15 minutes to run. He soon lost the lead to Italian Stefano Baldini, who won the race and De Lima took bronze.

"If that spectator didn't jump in front of me in the middle of the race, who knows what would have happened? Maybe I would have won. It disturbed me a lot," De Lima told reporters.

The International Olympic Committee awarded De Lima a special medal named after the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre De Coubertin, in recognition of his "exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values."

Despite this, the Brazilian Olympic Committee said it will take the case to the sport's highest legal body, demanding a review of the result, saying that De Lima lost because he was not given the necessary security on the streets of Athens.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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