By Gary Anderson

January 3 - Spartan Race founder Richard Lee has been forced to resign after falsely claiming he was a Royal Marine Commando ©Getty ImagesRichard Lee, one of the founders of the Spartan Race, has resigned in disgrace from his role at the worldwide endurance series after his claims of serving in the Royal Marines were exposed as lies by an organisation of former servicemen.

The 31-year-old, who headed up the United Kingdom branch - which is reported to have generated a turnover of £2.5 million ($4.1 million/€3 million) in 2012, boasted of serving as a Commando for three years, only leaving after breaking his leg, and used the false claim to help launch and build-up the multi-million pound business into an international franchise.

However, an investigation by a group of ex-servicemen known as The Walter Mitty Hunters Club, who look into individuals' claims of having a military past, exposed Lee after it emerged that he had not served in the military and only completed a brief stint in officer training in 2007 at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone, Devon.

Speaking to insidethegames last year, Lee boasted about the rapid growth of the series - which claims to be the world's leading extreme adventure/obstacle course race - since its first event in Canada in 2010.

Richard Lee claimed that the Spartan Race series will see up to 1.5 million participants in 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesRichard Lee claimed that the Spartan Race series will see up to 1.5 million participants in 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

"We've seen a huge increase in participation," he said in April.

"It is not something we could ever have predicted.

"Worldwide, we've gone from 5,000 people in four races in 2010 to 20 races with 250,000 participants in year two, 750,000 participants in year three, and we are going to end our fourth year with 1.5 million participants worldwide."

In January of this year, Spartan Race signed a five-year sponsorship deal with sports giant Reebok.

However, in an effort to minimise the embarrassment caused by the exposure of Lee, Spartan Race chief executive Joe De Sena admitted the only course of action was for the Briton to stand down from his position.

"Richard and I spoke at length regarding the inaccuracies surrounding his status as a Royal Marine, and ultimately, Richard and I concluded the only honourable thing for him to do would be to resign his position," De Sena said.

Spartan Race signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Reebok in January 2013 ©AFP/Getty ImagesSpartan Race signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Reebok in January 2013 ©AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Lee, who is engaged to Canadian endurance race competitor and head of Spartan Race in Quebec and Ontario, Selica Sevigny, gave a grovelling apology to all military personnel who have served for their country.

"I was wrong, I am sorry, and I want to apologise for the fact I allowed it to be publicised that I had passed out from CTCRM as a Royal Marines Commando Officer," he wrote on his Spartan Race blog.

"From 2001 to 2004, I was in the Officer Training Corps, which sparked my interest in joining the Royal Marines.

"In 2006, I went through selection to become a Young Officer in the Royal Marines, and after being selected, I commenced training in 2007.

"During the 18-month course, in 2008, I broke my kneecap.

"After surgery and rehab, I was told to take what is known as a 'Back Batch' where you re-enter training with the following year's batch during the same period of training.

"In the interim, as my desired career path was to become a mountain leader, I was permitted to attend relevant courses.

"I was due to complete my training in 2009, but when I returned to CTCRM, the medical officer determined that the damage that I sustained to my knee had not healed sufficiently, and I would not be allowed to Back Batch a second time.

"This was a huge blow, as even from a young age, I was inspired by family members who were in the Royal Marines."

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