On Monday, the organizers of the Beijing Half Marathon announced that they are investigating the allegations that three African runners deliberately let China’s He Jie win.

While it could be construed that the three Africans were pacemakers, which is common practice, they appeared to collaborate to let the Chinese runner win.

There is video footage showing Kenya’s Willy Mnagnat, Robert Keter and Ethiopia’s Dejene Hailu, running alongside, He, near the finish line. The video shows the African runners pointing to He to take the win as the threesome slowed down. 

He won by one second. The four runners ran the entire race together — as pacers will do — if the pace that is agreed to is not arduous, but typically do not finish. 

“We are investigating and will announce the results to the public as soon as they are available,” a Beijing sports bureau official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The broadcast is getting pushback from viewers complaining about the obvious fake win.

“The integrity of our sport is of paramount importance to World Athletics and while this investigation is ongoing we are unable to make any further comment,” communications director Jamie Fox told AFP.

He Jie ran the marathon as fast as 2:06:57 in Wuxi, China in March. It is the Chinese national record. He only ran that same pace in the half, missing the national record with a 1:03:44 finish. The national record is 1:01:33

“I was not there to compete,” said Mnangat. “It was not a competitive race for me.”

Mnangat added: “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.”

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