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Beijing half marathon hit by controversy as China’s He Jie allowed to win

Beijing half marathon hit by controversy as China’s He Jie allowed to win
China's He Jie reacts as he approaches the finish line to win the men's marathon   -  
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Lee Jin-man/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Organizers of the Beijing half marathon are looking into claims that three African athletes intentionally allowed China's top runner, He Jie, to win Sunday's race.

Footage emerged showing Kenya's Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat, along with Ethiopia's Dejene Hailu, appearing to signal to the finish line and slowing down before letting He pass them. This move has sparked criticism from some Chinese social media users.

Mnangat told BBC Sport Africa that the trio were acting as pacemakers. He explained that they were hired to assist He in breaking the Chinese half-marathon record but that He fell short of the target time.

The Beijing Sports Bureau spokesperson stated they are investigating the incident and will make the findings public. Xstep, a Chinese sports brand sponsoring the event, stated that they are verifying the situation.

Mnangat expressed confusion about his bib being labeled with his name instead of "pacemaker." He clarified that his role was solely to set the pace for He to win.

No comments have been made by the other runners involved. He Jie, China's marathon gold medalist at the 2023 Asian Games, is his country's record holder for the full marathon.

World Athletics issued a statement acknowledging the online footage and mentioned an ongoing investigation by local authorities.

Chinese social media users on Weibo have expressed disappointment, with one comment describing it as the "most embarrassing title of He Jie's career" gaining significant attention.

The incident has raised questions about sportsmanship in the prestigious event.

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