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Scandal Rocks Beijing Half Marathon, Champions Stripped of Titles

Beijing Half Marathon was marred by scandal as a Chinese runner won amid allegations of African collusion, leading to disqualification and sanctions.

Last Sunday, in what should have been a celebration of athletic achievement, the Beijing Half Marathon descended into controversy as the top four finishers were stripped of their medals. The shocking revelation emerged from an investigation that uncovered a covert agreement between three African runners and a Chinese competitor, tarnishing the integrity of the prestigious event.

Chinese athlete He Jie emerged victorious, crossing the finish line at 1:03:44 to claim the coveted gold medal and a substantial prize purse. However, his triumph was overshadowed by the suspicious actions of Ethiopian Dejene Hailu Bikila, Kenyans Robert Keter, and Willy Mnangat, who allegedly conspired to ensure his victory.

The pivotal moment was captured in a video clip that circulated online, igniting outrage among spectators and prompting calls for a thorough inquiry. As the quartet approached the finish line, Mnangat can be seen gesturing for He to surge ahead while Keter signaled for his fellow Africans to hold back. This orchestrated maneuver raised significant questions about the integrity of the race and cast a shadow over the legitimacy of He’s victory.

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In response to mounting pressure, the organizing committee swiftly launched an investigation, culminating in a damning conclusion. This past Friday, the organizing committee said the three African runners “actively slowed down in the last 2 kilometers, and as a result, He Jie won the men’s championship.” Consequently, all four athletes were stripped of their titles, medals, and accompanying rewards, plunging the event into disrepute.

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Further scrutiny revealed the involvement of Chinese sports company Xtep, which had enlisted the African trio as pacemakers for the race. However, crucial discrepancies arose as Xtep needed to disclose its role to the race operator, Zhong’ao Lupao Beijing Sports Management company. This oversight exposed a glaring lapse in oversight and raised questions about the extent of Xtep’s involvement in the scandal.

In light of these revelations, the organizing committee took decisive action, imposing sanctions on the race operator and Xtep. Zhong’ao Lupao Beijing Sports Management company was disqualified from hosting future editions of the Beijing Half Marathon, while Xtep faced a ban on sponsoring any further races for the season.

Amid the fallout, Xtep issued a public apology, expressing remorse for their role in the controversy and vowing to undertake comprehensive reforms to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Their contrition offered little solace to disillusioned fans and athletes alike, as the specter of collusion threatened to undermine the integrity of competitive sports.

For He Jie, the fallout from the scandal cast a shadow over his burgeoning career. As a rising star in China’s long-distance running scene, his achievements garnered widespread acclaim and positioned him as a leading contender for future international competitions.

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