Beijing half marathon results under investigation after runners appear to hand win to Chinese star

BANGKOK (AP) — Organizers are investigating a half marathon race in Beijing after three African runners appeared to let China's top long-distance runner move ahead of them shortly before the finish line and sprint to victory, sparking public speculation that the result was rigged.

There was a flood of public reaction online expressing suspicion about the race after video from the final moments of Sunday's Mengniu Beijing Half Marathon circulated online. On Monday, organizers of the race issued a statement saying they would investigate the results.

“The organizing committee attaches great importance to the issue raised by netizens about the results of the (race)," organizers said. "A special investigation team has been set up to conduct an investigation, and the results of the investigation will be released to the public in a timely fashion."

The Beijing Sports Bureau, which was in charge of the race, did not respond to a request for comment.

He Jie, who won the marathon at the Asian Games and holds the Chinese national record in the event, was trailing behind three runners from Kenya and Ethiopia as they approached the finish line. One of the runners then seems to gesture for the others to slow down as He moves in front and sprints to the finish line.

One of the other runners, Willy Mnangat of Kenya, told BBC Sport Africa that they allowed He to win but that they had been hired to serve as pacemakers and were not competing to win the race. However, all three had entered the race as official competitors rather than as pacemakers.

“I was not there to compete,” Mnangat was quoted as saying. “My job was to set the pace and help the guy win but unfortunately, he did not achieve the target, which was to break the national record.”

He finished with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes, 44 seconds, which was more than a minute slower than the Chinese half marathon record.


AP researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.