Chinese athletics admits 'problems' after half-marathon fiasco

China athletics admits ‘problems’ after half-marathon fiasco

/ 06:38 PM April 17, 2024

China runner He Jie half marathon scandal

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 5, 2023 shows China’s He Jie celebrating after crossing the finish line to win the men’s marathon final athletics event during the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

The booming popularity of road running in China has “exposed problems”, the country’s top athletics body says, after a half marathon went viral because of its bizarre finish.

Organizers launched an investigation after two runners from Kenya and one from Ethiopia appeared to deliberately allow China’s He Jie to win Sunday’s Beijing half marathon.

He, the 2023 Asian Games marathon gold medalist, won by one second after his supposed rivals appeared to slow down towards the finish and waved him out in front.

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Kenya’s Willy Mnangat told the BBC that the African trio were pacemakers, although their bibs did not say that.

Long-distance and road running have surged in popularity among the middle class in China, but the Chinese Athletics Association said that had presented problems.

The association met on Tuesday and afterward issued a statement vowing to make improvements — without mentioning Sunday’s race.

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“Since the spring of 2024 road-running events have been held across the country and people are enthusiastic about participating,” the association said.

“Overall, the events have been running smoothly.

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“But they have also exposed problems in event organization and management which have aroused widespread social concern.”

It added: “The meeting pointed out that the Chinese Athletics Association will further strengthen guidance and supervision of road-running events.”

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