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World of Sport

16th Apr 2024

Beijing Half Marathon to be investigated following controversial finish

Charlie Herbert

Organisers are investigating the finish

The Beijing Half Marathon is being investigated after a controversial finish in which a trio of runners appeared to let a Chinese runner win.

China’s He Jie won the race on Sunday as he passed Kenyan runners Willy Mnangat and Robert Keter and Ethiopian athlete Dejene Hailu on the homestraight.

But footage from the race appears to show the three African runners deliberately slowing down and waving He pass them as the four runners are neck and neck.

You can watch the moment below.

Mnangat seems to gesture for He to move ahead of him, with Keter – who is a former 5km world record holder – then appearing to wave for He to run ahead and telling Hailu to hold back.

The Chinese runner claimed the win with a time of 1:03:44 and claim $5,500 in prize money. The African runners all finished in joint-second place, just one second behind He.

They then all congratulate He, who seems a little bit sheepish about the win.

Writing on social media platform Weibo, a number of Chinese internet users raised questions about the legitimacy of the win, CNN reports.

One person wrote: “The so-called ‘ways of the world’ should not taint the fairness of competition in sports. Fairness is always at the core of sporting spirit.”

Another commented: “I support an investigation, and fair play is vital.”

They added that they hoped “a clear explanation” can be given by authorities to “maintain fairness of competition and respect athletes’ efforts.”

The Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and the Chinese Athletics Association, who both organised the race, have since released a statement regarding the finish.

The organisers confirmed they were looking into the race’s conclusion and attach “great importance” to the matter.

Both He and the Beijing Half Marathon are sponsored by Chinese sports company Xstep, who told state-run outlet The Paper the situation is “being investigated and verified by multiple parties.”

“Further information will be communicated as soon as possible,” they said in a statement.

He is one of China’s most promising long-distance runners. World Athletics has him ranked 77th in the world for men’s marathon running, and he will be one of his country’s main running hopes at the upcoming Olympics in Paris.

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