SportKenyan runner Willy Mnangat says he was a pacesetter for He Jie during controversial finish to …


Kenyan runner Willy Mnangat says he was a pacesetter for He Jie during controversial finish to Beijing half marathon


Organisers of the Beijing half marathon are investigating allegations three African athletes deliberately allowed China’s star runner He Jie to win Sunday’s race.

Footage appeared to show Kenya’s Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat, and Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu, pointing to the line and slowing down before waving He past.

While the result was widely criticised on social media, Mnangat told the BBC that the trio ran as pacemakers.

The Kenyan said four runners had been contracted to help He break the Chinese half-marathon record of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 33 seconds and that one of them did not finish the race.

He missed out on the record with a time of 1:03:44, one second ahead of the trio, who tied for second place.

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“I was not there to compete,” Mnangat said.

“It was not a competitive race for me.

“I don’t know why they put my name on my bib/chest number instead of labelling it as a pacemaker.

“My job was to set the pace and help the guy win but unfortunately, he did not achieve the target, which was to break the national record.”

A spokesperson at the Beijing Sports Bureau told AFP they were investigating the incident.

“We will announce the results to the public once they are available,” they said.

Xstep, a Chinese sports brand that sponsored the event and has a contract with He, told Chinese state-owned The Paper: “The situation is still being confirmed and verified by multiple parties. Further information will be communicated as soon as possible.”

None of the other runners have commented on the incident.

China’s He won marathon gold at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou and is his country’s record holder for the full marathon.

A statement from World Athletics said the integrity of sport was their highest priority.

“We are aware of the footage circulating online from the Beijing half marathon this weekend and understand an investigation is currently being conducted by the relevant local authorities,” the statement said.

“The integrity of our sport is the highest priority at World Athletics, while this investigation is ongoing we are unable to provide further comment.”


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