Beijing Half Marathon embroiled in race fixing controversy, He Jie claims he doesn’t need the title to prove himself

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16th April 2024 – (Beijing) The Beijing Half Marathon, has been thrust into controversy. He Jie, a renowned Chinese marathon runner, clinched the men’s title under dubious circumstances that have sparked widespread debate and an official investigation. The incident has raised serious questions about the integrity of competitive sports and the ethical lines that may have been crossed.

During the final stretch of the race, a video that went viral shows three African runners—Willy Mnangat from Kenya, his compatriot Robert Keter, and Dejene Hailu from Ethiopia—apparently slowing down and making gestures that seemed to allow He Jie to surge ahead and win. The footage captured Mnangat turning towards He and making a hand gesture, which many interpreted as him letting He take the lead just meters from the finish line.

He Jie crossed the finish line with a time of 1:03:44, claiming the top prize of $5,500. The three African runners finished jointly in second place, a mere second behind. While they were seen applauding He’s victory, the Asian Games marathon champion displayed a subdued reaction to his win, sparking further speculation about the nature of his victory.

The unusual end to the race has not only caught the attention of sports enthusiasts but also ignited a firestorm on social media platforms like Weibo, where users are calling for a thorough investigation. A common sentiment among the public is the need for maintaining the sanctity of fairness in sports, which they feel is compromised by such incidents.

“Fair competition is the cornerstone of sports. Such ‘ways of the world’ should not corrupt the essence of sports,” commented a Weibo user, reflecting a widespread demand for transparency and integrity in the conduct of sporting events.

The Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and the Chinese Athletics Association have been quick to respond, acknowledging the gravity of the allegations and the potential damage to the reputation of the event. They have announced the commencement of a formal inquiry to ascertain the facts of the case. Xstep, the sports company sponsoring both He Jie and the marathon, confirmed that the matter is under multi-party investigation and promised to release more information as it becomes available.

Sports analysts and commentators have weighed in, noting the peculiarity of the race’s conclusion. “It’s just a bad look, however you slice it,” noted Mark Dreyer, a sports analyst and author. He pointed out that while sportsmanship like jointly crossing the finish line is common, the actions in this instance appeared contrived, focusing solely on aiding He Jie.

The incident not only casts a shadow over He Jie’s victory but also brings to light broader issues of ethics in sports. As a top contender and a national record holder, He Jie’s capabilities are well-established, making the alleged need for assistance from competitors seem unnecessary and harmful to his reputation.