Beijing Half Marathon Winners Stripped of Medals

By Billy Jiang, April 22, 2024

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In a startling turn of events, the top four finishers of the Beijing Half Marathon have been stripped of their medals following allegations of race-fixing. 

The controversy erupted after an investigation revealed that three African runners intentionally slowed down near the finish line to allow a Chinese competitor to win.

The race, held on April 14 as part of the Beijing International Long Distance Running Festival, saw China's He Jie crossing the finish line in 1:03:44, claiming the gold medal and an RMB40,000 first prize. 

However, Kenya's Willy Mnangat, his countryman and former 5km world record holder Robert Keter, and Ethiopia's Dejene Hailu – who all finished just one second behind He – were found to have deliberately slowed down in the last 2 kilometers of the race.

READ MORE: WATCH: Beijing Half Marathon Ends in Controversy

The act sparked outrage among spectators, and prompted an immediate investigation by the Beijing Half Marathon organizing committee.

In a statement released on April 19, the committee announced the cancellation of He Jie, Willy Mnangat, Robert Keter, and Dejene Hailu's race results. 

Their trophies, medals, and prize money were also revoked, with the committee reporting the incident to the Chinese Athletics Association for further action.

The three African runners were initially invited to participate in the race as pacemakers by Chinese sports company Xtep, a sponsor of the Beijing Half Marathon and He Jie. 

However, according to the statement, Xtep failed to inform the race operator, Zhong'ao Lupao Beijing Sports Management company, of their role as pacemakers.

As a consequence, the organizing committee disqualified the race operator from hosting future Beijing Half Marathons and banned Xtep from sponsoring any races for the remainder of the season. 

Xtep issued a statement expressing sincere apologies to all participants and customers, accepting full responsibility for the incident, and pledging to conduct a thorough review to prevent such occurrences in the future.

He Jie, the Chinese runner at the center of the controversy, is considered one of the country's most promising long-distance runners. 

Having broken China's marathon record twice in the past two years, He was expected to play a significant role for Asian runners at the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Whether we will see He competing in the Paris Games following this controversy remains to be seen.

For all the latest China news, follow our WeChat official account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image via video screenshot by That's]

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