Beijing half marathon under scrutiny

Lea Hogg 1 month ago
Beijing half marathon under scrutiny

The integrity of sports in China has been thrust into the limelight following a controversial conclusion to the Beijing Half Marathon, which has drawn public attention. The centre of this controversy is He Jie, (pictured above), a record holder in Chinese marathon running, who was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds.

While He’s time is impressive, it’s the circumstances surrounding his victory that have raised eyebrows. Three African runners, Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat from Kenya, and Dejene Hailu Bikila from Ethiopia, were seen running alongside He in the final moments of the race. The live stream of the event, which took place on 14 April, shows these three athletes seemingly ‘escorting’ He, as some media outlets have put it.

He, an Asian Games marathon gold medalist, is seen trailing closely behind the trio but then suddenly accelerates after what appears to be a gesture from Mnangat, encouraging the Chinese runner to increase his pace and directing him towards the finish line. What’s unusual is that none of the three African runners attempt to surpass He, leading to a photo finish that has been scrutinized by internet users not just in China, but globally.

Allegations of match fixing

The Beijing Sports Competition Management and International Exchange Centre, the organizer of the event, has initiated an investigation into the incident. Additionally, Xstep, a Chinese sports brand that sponsored the event and has a contract with He, has stated to The Paper, a state-owned media outlet, that the situation is currently being verified by multiple parties and further information will be released as soon as possible.

This incident has inevitably led to allegations of match-fixing. World Athletics, the international governing body of athletics, has addressed these allegations. “We are aware of the footage circulating online from the Beijing Half Marathon and understand an investigation is currently being conducted by the relevant local authorities,” a spokesperson for World Athletics said. “The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics. “While this investigation is ongoing we are unable to provide further comment.”

The outcome of the investigation is eagerly awaited by sports enthusiasts worldwide. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining integrity in sports, and the potential repercussions when this integrity is called into question.

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