WATCH: Chinese Athlete He Jie “Gifted” Sketchy Win By 3 Competitors At Beijing Half Marathon

It appears the fix was in at Sunday's race in China


Sunday’s Beijing Half Marathon has sparked controversy after allegations of race-fixing and an utterly bizarre finish.

Top Chinese distance runner He Jie claimed what’s being dubbed an “embarrassing” victory after he appeared to be “gifted” a victory by his fellow competitors in a perplexing final stretch of the race.

After running 13 miles stride-for-stride, He Jie crossed the finish line just one second ahead of three other competitors, Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat of Kenya and Dejen Hailu of Ethiopia.

Viral video footage from the race shows the four runners approaching the finish line in unison in what was shaping up to be an exciting sprint finish. Instead, Keter, Mnangat, and Hailu all appear to drastically back off of the pace, along with them gesturing for the Chinese athlete to take the lead and surge ahead for the win. 

In response to the criticism, the Beijing Sports Bureau has launched an investigation into the incident. 

“We are investigating and will announce the results to the public once they are available,” an unnamed representative from the Beijing Sports Bureau told AFP.

Additionally, World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, has acknowledged the circulating video and said they will also monitor the situation closely.

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

WATCH: Chinese Athlete He Jie "Gifted" Sketchy Win By 3 Competitors At Beijing Half Marathon 1

Chinese sports brand Xtep, a headline sponsor of the Beijing Half Marathon and He Jie’s sponsor also said it has initiated an inquiry into the situation.

While the reason behind the alleged race-fixing remains unclear, there is speculation regarding the runners’ relationships and strategic decisions during the race. 

Mnangat has even commented to the media about his friendship with He Jie and hinted at what he’s called past “collaborations.”

Mnangat told the South China Morning Post, “He comes to Kenya, and I was [pacing for him] in [the] Wuxi Marathon, so [he] is my friend, OK?”

The three East African athletes who appeared to defer to He Jie at the finish line were also all wearing Xtep kit, although it’s unclear if they are sponsored by the brand.

WATCH: Chinese Athlete He Jie "Gifted" Sketchy Win By 3 Competitors At Beijing Half Marathon 2

With China’s growing interest in hosting major sports events, instances of cheating and organizational lapses have tarnished the reputation of various races in recent years.

Past scandals, such as cheating participants from the 2018 Shenzhen Half Marathon and the infamous incident of a cyclist joining the Xuzhou International Marathon in 2019, have not boasted well.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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