Race organisers investigating controversial Beijing half marathon finish

Chinese runner He Jie crosses the finish line to win the Beijing Half Marathon.
He Jie won the Beijing half marathon by one second. Credit: CNN

Race organisers in China are investigating the result of this year's Beijing half marathon after accusations that a trio of runners deliberately threw the race.

He Jie - who is considered one of China's most promising long-distance runners - emerged victorious one second ahead of three African runners, including Kenyan athlete Robert Keter - who is the former 5km world record-holder.

Video footage of the finish to Sunday's race shows fellow Kenyan athlete Willy Mnangat turn toward He and gesture him to move ahead of himself, Keter and Ethiopia's Dejene Hailu.

All three runners then appear to hold back behind He and watch on as he finished in first place.

He, despite winning, appears to look far less enthused than the three African runners, who can be seen applauding the 25-year-old's success.

He later told reporters he "was not in my best competitive state", but did not discuss the controversial finish.

The result prompted some Chinese internet users to call for an investigation, with one writing on social platform Weibo that "fair play is vital".

Another wrote: "The so-called 'ways of the world' should not taint the fairness of competition in sports. Fairness is always at the core of sporting spirit."

Race organisers the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and Chinese Athletics Association acknowledged "feedback has been received" and "will be processed further", Chinese state media reported.

Chinese sports company Xstep, which sponsors both He and the Beijing Half Marathon, told Chinese state-run outlet The Paper that the situation is "being investigated and verified by multiple parties".

He, who has broken China's marathon record twice in the past two years, was rewarded with $5,500 (£4,400) for finishing first place.

He is ranked 77th in the world in men's marathon by World Athletics and is expected to lead the way for Asian runners in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris.

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