Kenyan marathon runner in Beijing insists they were pacers as controversy swirls

Kenyan marathon runner in Beijing insists they were pacers as controversy swirlsKenyan marathon runner in Beijing insists they were pacers as controversy swirls
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A Beijing half marathon runner from Kenya has insisted he was employed as a “pacer” for winner He Jie amid controversy over the race’s outcome.
Key points:
  • Kenya’s Willy Mnangat and Robert Keter, along with Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu, are at the forefront of a swirling controversy after being accused of allowing Chinese runner He Jie, 25, to finish the Beijing half marathon on Sunday.
  • Willy Mnangat initially stated to the South China Morning Post that he allowed He to win due to their friendship and their previous collaboration in the Wuxi Marathon. The Kenyan runner later clarified to SCMP that they were hired as pacemakers to assist He in achieving the national record.
  • Mnangat also spoke to BBC Sport Africa to reiterate his claims, stating, “I was not there to compete. It was not a competitive race for me.”
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Catching up:
  • Footage from the Sunday race shows the trio gesturing for He to pass them near the finish line, seemingly indicating a coordinated effort to help the Chinese runner win the race.
  • He finished with a time of one hour, three minutes and 44 seconds, which was one minute and 11 seconds short of the record he was aiming for. Meanwhile, official record showed that Bikila, Keter and Mnangat finished in second, third and fourth place, respectively.
The details:
  • Despite Mnangat’s assertion, the Kenyan runner purportedly failed to provide evidence supporting his claim of employment as a pacer. Additionally, organizers released a list of official pacemakers for the marathon the trio’s names were reportedly not on the list.
  • Official pacers in the marathon were required to wear special clothing indicating “Pacer” on both the front and back. Mnangat acknowledged this in an interview with BBC Sport Africa, stating that he was confused why the organizers put his name and number on the label of his shirt instead of labeling him as a pacer.
  • One of Mnangat’s agents, a Chinese man named Karen Lin, denied to SCMP any involvement in the controversy, stating that what happened had “nothing to do with me.”
  • The Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and Chinese Athletics Association noted in a statement on Monday that they are approaching the issue with “great importance” and have already launched an investigation.
  • Similarly, Xtep, a Chinese company who sponsored the event and which also has He as its contracted spokesperson, issued a statement on Monday, noting that the company is in the process of confirming and verifying the details. It added, “Further information will be communicated as soon as possible.”
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