Two Kenyans, one Ethiopian accused of fixing Beijing Half Marathon to favor Chinese runner

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Two Kenyans, one Ethiopian accused of fixing Beijing Half Marathon to favor Chinese runner

Festus Chuma 09:32 - 15.04.2024

Two Kenyan and one Ethiopian runners are accused of letting a Chinese athlete win the Beijing Half Marathon deliberately.

Two Kenyan runners and one Ethiopian are under investigation after they were accused of deliberately allowing Chinese marathoner He Jie to win the Beijing Half Marathon.

The incident, captured in widely shared footage, shows the runners—identified as Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat from Kenya, and Dejene Hailu from Ethiopia—seemingly making way for He Jie at the finish line.

In the controversial video, the three athletes can be seen gesturing towards the finish line and apparently slowing their pace to let He, the 2023 Asian Games marathon gold medalist, take the lead and ultimately win the race by a narrow one-second margin. 

“It seemed orchestrated,” commented a race spectator who witnessed the event.

The Beijing Sports Bureau confirmed that an investigation was underway. 

"We are taking this matter very seriously and will communicate the findings to the public once the investigation is complete," stated an anonymous official from the bureau.

The race’s organizer, the Beijing Sports Competition Management and International Exchange Center, also announced its own inquiry into the allegations.

This incident has sparked a significant backlash on Weibo, China's leading social media platform, where users expressed disappointment and frustration.

 "This will certainly be the most embarrassing championship in He Jie's career," one user posted.

 Another added, "With such a major organizer and such a well-known event, this really pushes sportsmanship to the ground in shame."

Long-distance running has gained popularity among China’s middle class in recent years, though the sport has been marred by several scandals. 

In 2018, over 250 participants at a Shenzhen half-marathon were disqualified for cheating, which included taking shortcuts. 

In another instance in 2019, a participant in the Xuzhou International Marathon was filmed riding a bicycle during the race.

Experts suggest that these incidents reflect deeper issues within the organization of sporting events in China. 

The Beijing Half Marathon was intended to showcase the city’s commitment to international sports post-pandemic. 

This controversy, however, might overshadow its efforts and could potentially lead to stricter regulations and oversight in future events to prevent similar occurrences.

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