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Beijing half-marathon organizers investigating whether competitors let Chinese runner win

Authorities have opened an investigation after video from the finish line at a the Beijing half-marathon raised questions about whether other athletes let a Chinese runner win the race.

A now-viral video shows Kenyan runners Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat and Ethiopian runner Dejene Hailu running in a pack with Chinese runner Jie He, 25. At one point, the runner closest to He appears to wave him over, and He cross their path. They stick in a pack until the very end, when He beats the rest by a mere second. 

He received the the first place medal, while the three other runners tied for second place, BBC Sport reports. Social media users in China criticized the results of the race, prompting officials to open an investigation.

Half-marathon in Beijing
Chinese runner He Jie, Ethiopian Dejene Hailu Bikila and Kenyans Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat take part in a half-marathon in Beijing, China April 14, 2024.  China Stringer Network via Reuters

The Beijing Sports Bureau said it is investigating and will announce the results once they are available, AFP reported. CBS News has reached out to the bureau for a statement and is awaiting response. 

World Athletics, which hosted the half-marathon on Sunday, April 14, said in a statement to CBS News that they are aware of the video and investigation. "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 group said.

He, who won the gold medal for the marathon at the 2023 Asian Games, holds the record for China in the event, according to BBC Sport.

One social media user on the Chinese platform Weibo called the half-marathon race "no doubt the most embarrassing title" of He's career. Another said the alleged incident "pushes sportsmanship to the ground in shame."

He and the event are sponsored by Chinese sports brand Xtep, which told Chinese state-owned news site The Paper that the situation is "still being confirmed and verified by multiple parties." 

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