Astonishing images have emerged of people blatantly cheating in the Shenzhen Half Marathon in China on Thursday (29 November), which prompted runABC news writer Alan Newman to recall an article he wrote in April last year after Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) officials vowed to crack down on this sort of unscrupulous behaviour.
Alan's story titled, Chinese Take Away Fair Play
, focused on the disqualification of 30 runners in the Xiamen Half Marathon following the sad death of a male who was allegedly participating illegally while wearing a woman's number. Coincidentally, Alan also highlighted the dangers of breaching the rules governing number exchanges in a Runtalk article: We've Got Your Number,
published in October last year.
The explosion of distance running in China seems to have taken the Chinese governing bodies by surprise as the number of marathons and half marathons has spiralled from just 22 in 2011 to more than 1,072 already this year. The CAA had expected road races to increase steadily to 800 events by 2020, with more than 10 million participants.
Sadly, it seems that considerable numbers of those competitors do not abide by the rules and merely want to collect their medal and finisher stats by any means, fair or foul. The outrage in China has led to an editorial in the People's Daily, with the clarion call: “Please respect the Marathon, and respect sporting spirit”.
Of the 258 runners penalised in Shenzhen last week, 18 ran with fake number bibs; three were alleged to be hired imposters and two had identical race numbers! Nearly 200 other runners committed various minor breaches of the rules resulting in disqualification from the results. All of the race number violators will be banned for life from the Shenzen Half Marathon.
However, 46 cheats simply cut up to four kilometres off the course by deliberately crossing the out and back dual carriageway by passing through undergrowth before the official turn point. Their underhand actions were caught by Shenzhen Traffic Police cameras and posted online and those identified will be banned from the event for two years. Check out this action on YouTube
As Alan said in October 2017: “There is no hiding place”.