Beijing half marathon to be investigated after controversial finish

He Jie won the half marathon in Beijing (VIA REUTERS)
He Jie won the half marathon in Beijing (VIA REUTERS)

The Beijinghalf marathon is being investigated by organisers after allegations that three African athletes deliberately slowed down to allow China’s He Jie to cross the finish line first.

He finished the race in a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, beating Kenya’s Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat and Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu, who all finished joint second, a second behind the leader.

Footage has emerged of the three African runners slowing down and pointing to the line, as they were overtaken by the Chinese runner.

He is a member of China’s marathon team and a national marathon record holder and had run with the other three runners for the entire 13.1 mile race.

A statement from World Athletics to BBC Sport said: "We are aware of the footage circulating online from the Beijing half marathon this weekend and understand an investigation is currently being conducted by the relevant local authorities.

"The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics, while this investigation is ongoing we are unable to provide further comment."

The Beijing Sports Bureau, the municipal body in charge of sports, reportedly said an investigation was under way and that the findings would be announced once available.

None of the runners involved have commented on the incident, although users of the Chinese social media website Weibo have posted about the race, and criticising the ending.

He, aged 25 is a former Asian Games winner who races the full marathon distance internationally. He finished first in the 19th Asian Games, held in China in October 2023.

In his only other major championships, the World Athletics Championships in Budapest 2023, he finished 44th in the full marathon with a time of 2 hours 19 minutes and 48 seconds.