China boosts oversight after questionable half-marathon finish

The Chinese Athletics Association has vowed to strengthen the supervision of its road-running events after video of Sunday's Beijing half-marathon showed three runners appearing to slow down to allow China's He Jie to overtake them and win.

He won in a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes, 44 seconds, a second ahead of Ethiopian Dejene Hailu Bikila and Kenyans Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat, who all tied for second place.

Videos shared online showed the three runners waving He, who was slightly behind them, in front and gesturing toward the finish line. All four had run together for the entire 13.1-mile race.

Mnangat told the BBC that the trio ran as pacesetters and were not competing. However, their bibs did not indicate they were pacesetters, as is customary.

The Beijing Sports Bureau, the municipal body in charge of sports, said an investigation of the incident was underway.

"Since the spring of 2024, road running events have been held intensively across the country, and the enthusiasm of the masses for participation has been high," the CAA said in a statement Tuesday following a meeting of its officials. "In general, the overall operation of road running events has been smooth, but problems in the organisation and management of the events have also been exposed, which has aroused widespread concern."

Distance running is increasingly popular in China, but races have a history of cheating and poor organization.

In Shenzhen's 2018 half-marathon, 258 participants were caught cheating. In 2010, the winner of a women's half marathon in Shandong was stripped of her title when she was discovered to have brought in someone else to run for her.