Chinese marathon runner suspected of stealing win calls himself victim amid investigations

2024-04-16 Editor:Zhao Li

(ECNS) -- The Beijing Half Marathon Organizing Committee has confirmed investigations are underway following Sunday's 21-kilometer (13-mile) race, which aroused suspicions after an African trio appeared to let Chinese runner He Jie overtake them meters from the finish line. 

He crossed the finish line in 1:03:44 to claim first prize, with the trio a second behind in joint-second place. 

Many netizens subsequently called the race a "joke" and "performance."

Some, however, suggested that the foreign athletes served as pacemakers, and that He was meant to win.

He, 25, a member of China's marathon team and national marathon record holder, addressed the controversy in an online fan group, saying "When I am on the competition stage, my professional integrity does not allow me to withdraw. I don't need this championship to prove myself. I don't want to elaborate too much on this. Thank you all for your understanding and support. I have received many unfriendly comments and messages, which indeed make me feel sad and puzzled.” 

A screenshot of his response to a fan, which ECNS was attempting to verify, states, “Hey bro, I haven't forgotten my mission. I am the victim in this incident. I don't know what to do, but I know that from the moment the starting gun fires, I must give my all to the competition. All I can do is to do my best. If this incident disappoints you, feel free to block me."

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