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Medals of top 4 athletes at Beijing Half Marathon taken back after probe revealed that 3 African runners slowed down to let Chinese competitor win

Video clip of the marathon near the finish line showed that Ethiopian Dejene Hailu Bikila and Kenyans Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat slowed down to allow Chinese runner He Jie win the race

The top four finishers of the Beijing Half Marathon were stripped of their medals following an investigation which revealed that three African runners slowed down deliberately near the finishing line to let a Chinese competitor win, as per the organisers, reported by CNN.

China’s He Jie crossed the finishing line with the timings of 1:03:44 and clinched a gold medal and a cash prize of 5,500 USD. The African trio fell just one second short of victory and secured a joint-second place.

A video clip of the finish showed Kenya’s Willy Mnangat turning towards He and gestured him to move ahead as four men were running neck-to-neck. Robert Keter, a former 5 km world record holder, also a Kenyan athlete, waved at He to overtake the trio and signalled his compatriot and Ethipia’s Dejene Hailu to hang back.

The video caused a lot of uproar in China and many called for investigation and action from organisers.

In a statement issued on Friday, the organising committee of the marathon said that the three runners, “actively slowed down in the last 2 kilometers and as a result He Jie won the men’s championship.”

The results of all four athletes along with their trophies, medals and bonuses will be revoked, added the statement.

The three African runners were invited to join the race as pacemakers by Chinese sports company Xtep, which sponsored both He and the marathon, as per committee. But Xtep could not note the trio as pacemakers to the race operator, Zhong’ao Lupao Beijing Sports Management company, the committee said.

The committee disqualified the operator from hosting the Beijing Half Marathon banned Xtep from hosting more races this season.

In a statement issued on Friday, Xtep “sincerly apologised” to all the competitors and its customers.

“We bear a great responsibility for this, fully accept the punishment decision made by the organizing committee,” it said, vowing to “reflect seriously and conduct a deep review” to “ensure such incidents do not happen again in the future.”

He, 25 years of age, has broken the records of Chinese marathon twice within past two years and is considered as one of the best long-distance runners of his country. He is ranked 74th in world rankings by World Athletics and is expected to lead the Asian runners during the Paris 2024 Olympics.

This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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