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BEIJING HALF MARATHON INVESTIGATION: AFRICAN RUNNERS LET PRC RUNNER WIN

The Beijing half marathon, held on April 14, has sparked controversy after video footage showed three African runners, identified as Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat from Kenya, and Dejene Hailu from Ethiopia, seemingly slowing down and gesturing for China’s He Jie to take the lead in the final stretch of the race.

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The four runners had been together for the entire 21km course, with the Chinese runner ultimately clinching the gold medal by a narrow margin of one second. The African runners finished jointly in second place, securing silver medals.

Investigation Launched

The Beijing Sports Bureau and the event’s organizer, the Beijing Sports Competition Management and International Exchange Center, have confirmed that an investigation is underway. The authorities are well aware of the video clips circulating online, which have raised questions about the integrity of the race.

World Athletics, the international governing body for athletics, has also acknowledged the situation, stating, “The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics. While this investigation is ongoing, we are unable to provide further comment.”

Social media platforms, such as Weibo, have been flooded with comments criticizing the African runners’ behavior, with many users comparing the incident to match-fixing in football.

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Kenyan Runner Defends Actions

Willy Mnangat, one of the Kenyan runners involved, has since clarified that he allowed He Jie to win because they are friends. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Mnangat stated, “He comes to Kenya and I was [pacing for him] in the Wuxi Marathon, so he is my friend, okay.”

Mnangat denied receiving any financial reward for his actions and insisted that no one had instructed him to let He Jie win. However, he later changed his story, claiming to have been a pacemaker during the race. This explanation has been met with skepticism, as his bib number was identical to He Jie’s, indicating that they were competitors rather than pacemakers.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, and the outcome could have significant implications for the reputations of the athletes and the sport of athletics as a whole.

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