Chinese athletics admits 'problems', days on from half-marathon fiasco

By AFP   April 17, 2024 | 01:36 am PT
Chinese athletics admits 'problems', days on from half-marathon fiasco
China's He Jie competes in the men's marathon at the Asian Games in 2023. Photo by Pool/Song Yanhua via AFP
The booming popularity of road running in China has "exposed problems", the country's top athletics body says, after a half marathon went viral because of its bizarre finish.

Organizers launched an investigation after two runners from Kenya and one from Ethiopia appeared to deliberately allow China's He Jie to win Sunday's Beijing half marathon.

He, the 2023 Asian Games marathon gold medallist, won by one second after his supposed rivals appeared to slow down towards the finish and waved him out in front.

Kenya's Willy Mnangat told the BBC that the African trio were pacemakers, although their bibs did not say that.

Long-distance and road running have surged in popularity among the middle class in China, but the Chinese Athletics Association said that had presented problems.

The association met on Tuesday and afterwards issued a statement vowing to make improvements - without mentioning Sunday's race.

"Since the spring of 2024 road-running events have been held across the country and people are enthusiastic about participating," the association said.

"Overall, the events have been running smoothly.

"But they have also exposed problems in event organization and management which have aroused widespread social concern."

It added: "The meeting pointed out that the Chinese Athletics Association will further strengthen guidance and supervision of road-running events."

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