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By Spooky on April 16th, 2024 Category: News

Chinese runner He Jie’s victory at last week’s Beijing Half-Marathon has been overshadowed by a scandal involving three Kenyan runners who appear to let the Chinese competitor win the race.

Sunday’s Beijing Half-Marathon saw 25-year-old He Jie crossed the finish line first, in 1:03:44, under a second ahead of an African trio of runners who collectively claimed second place. It was an impressive achievement for the Chinese runner, especially since one of the runners-up was former 5km world record-holder Robert Keter of Kenya, but his win was quickly called into question on social media after suspicious videos recorded during the race made their way online. The fact that He seemed to be the only one sprinting as he approached the finish line was bizarre enough, but one clip shows Kenya’s Willy Mnangat signaling his countryman Keter and Ethiopian runner Dejene Hailu Bikila to hang back and waving He Jie to overtake them.

“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,” One Weibo user commented.

“This will undoubtedly become the most embarrassing championship in He Jie’s career,” another post on the Chinese social network read.

The general outrage reached a high enough level that local authorities launched an investigation into the matter. Even He Jie’s sponsor, Chinese sports company Xstep, stated that the incident is being investigated by multiple parties, adding that further information on the matter will be communicated as soon as possible.

The South China Morning Post asked Willy Mnangat if he let He Jie win the half-marathon, to which he replied “Yes, because he was my friend.”

“He comes to Kenya and I was [pacing for him] in the Wuxi Marathon, so he is my friend, OK,” Mnangat said.


The Kenyan runner changed his story a few hours later, but his original answer had already made news headlines around the world and attracted even more attention to an already huge scandal.

“It’s just a bad look, however you slice it,” said sports analyst Mark Dreyer. “It’s one thing for four runners running right at the end to potentially hold hands or cross the line together in a show of sportsmanship. That’s not what we saw. It’s not a sprint finish for anyone other than He Jie. It doesn’t take a genius or running expert to figure that out.”

He Jie is considered one of China’s most promising long-distance runners, and most experts agree that he didn’t need this kind of charity from the three African runners. He is ranked 77th in the world in men’s marathon rankings.


He Jie is elite, he doesn’t need this charity,” Dreyer said “It makes a mockery of the competition and it undermines his previous achievements.”

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