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African runners allegedly let Chinese competitor win Beijing half marathon

Video clips from the Beijing half marathon stir controversy as they depict African runners seemingly allowing China’s He Jie to claim victory, prompting investigations and raising questions about race integrity.



African runners allegedly let Chinese competitor win Beijing half marathon

BEIJING, CHINA: Video clips from the conclusion of the Beijing half marathon on Sunday (14 April), have ignited controversy by apparently suggesting that three African runners facilitated China’s He Jie in securing victory.

Captured footage depicts Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat from Kenya, alongside Dejene Hailu from Ethiopia, engaged in a tight sprint towards the finish line, closely trailed by Chinese athlete He, as circulated by netizens on various social media platforms.

During the final moments of the race, the African competitors noticeably slowed their pace, gesturing towards the finish line and appearing to encourage He, who had previously won the gold medal in the 2023 Asian Games marathon.

Ultimately, the 25-year-old Chinese runner crossed the finish line just one second ahead of his African counterparts.

Observers noted that the African athletes did not put up significant effort during the race, maintaining a close distance to He throughout the entire 21-kilometer course, as highlighted by a broadcaster.

Official investigation launched into Beijing half marathon finish

The race’s outcome, marked by the unusual behaviour of the runners, has not only captured the attention of spectators but has also triggered an official investigation.

Officials from the Beijing Sports Bureau and the event organizer, the Beijing Sports Competition Management and International Exchange Center, have confirmed the launch of an inquiry into the matter, as reported by China’s state media.

World Athletics has also acknowledged the situation, emphasizing the importance of integrity in the sport.

“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,” World Athletics said.

However, they refrained from providing further comment until the investigation concluded.

The controversy has stirred discussions on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, with many users criticizing the African runners and denouncing their behaviour as detrimental to the integrity of the race and the sport as a whole.

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Kenyan runner explains letting Chinese competitor win in Beijing half marathon

Following the controversial finish of the Beijing half marathon, Kenyan runner Mnangat has explained his apparent act of letting China’s He Jie win, stating to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he did so because “he is my friend.”

When asked directly if he allowed He to win, Mnangat affirmed, “yes,” citing their friendship and recalling He’s participation in the Wuxi Marathon in March 2024, where Mnangat paced for him.

Mnangat’s time of 2:06:57 in the Wuxi Marathon set a national record for him.

He emphasized that no one instructed him to let He win, nor did he receive any financial compensation for his actions.

However, Mnangat later altered his statement, claiming he was merely a pacemaker during the race.

Critics pointed out that his bib did not indicate his role as a pacer but instead identified him as a competitor alongside He.

Dissenters challenged Mnangat’s portrayal of his actions, arguing that sacrificing a win for a fellow runner contradicted the financial reality of professional racing, where prize money often barely covers expenses.

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