Controversy at Beijing Half Marathon as Top Finishers Disqualified for Strategic Finish

Controversy at Beijing Half Marathon as Top Finishers Disqualified for Strategic Finish

In a surprising turn of events, the top four finishers at the Beijing Half Marathon have been disqualified from their medals following an inquiry that revealed three African athletes intentionally slowed down to allow a Chinese runner to claim victory. Organizers have taken swift action in response to the orchestrated finish line strategy.

The organizers of the Beijing Half Marathon have disqualified the top four finishers from the race. An investigation revealed that three African runners purposefully slowed down near the finish line to allow a Chinese competitor, He Jie, to win.

He Jie finished the race in 1:03:44, securing the gold medal and a $5,500 prize. The African runners, who finished just one second behind, were stripped of their medals and positions in the race.

A video clip captured the moment when Kenya’s Willy Mnangat signaled for He to move ahead during a close race. Shortly after, former 5km world record holder Robert Keter gestured for He to take the lead while signaling for his compatriot and Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu to stay back.

The video sparked outrage online in China, with many viewers calling for an investigation and urging organizers to take action.

The organizing committee announced on Friday that the three African runners intentionally slowed down during the final 2 kilometers of the race, allowing He Jie to win the men's championship.

As a consequence, the results of all four runners have been invalidated, and they will have to return their trophies, medals, and bonuses.

The Chinese sports company Xtep, which sponsored He and the Beijing Half Marathon, invited three African runners to join the race as pacemakers, as confirmed by the committee.

However, Xtep did not inform the race operator, Zhong’ao Lupao Beijing Sports Management company, that the trio would be serving as pacemakers, according to the committee.

The operator was disqualified by the committee from hosting the Beijing Half Marathon and Xtep was banned from sponsoring any more races this season. In a statement on Friday, Xtep offered a sincere apology to all the runners and its customers.

"We acknowledge our responsibility in this matter and fully accept the decision of the organizing committee. We are committed to reflecting on this incident and conducting a thorough review to prevent similar occurrences in the future."

At 25 years old, he has set China's marathon record twice in the last two years, establishing himself as one of the country's most promising long-distance runners. Currently ranked 74th in the world for men's marathon by World Athletics, he is anticipated to lead the charge for Asian runners at the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

CNN’s Andrew McNicol contributed to this story.

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The Beijing Half Marathon