Marathon madness: Over 250 runners caught cheating in China race

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Marathon madness: Over 250 runners caught cheating in China race Get short URL Around 250 runners have been shamed in China after being caught cheating in last weekend’s Shenzhen half-marathon, with some being filmed taking shortcuts to shave up to 3km off their route.

Organizers of the half-marathon said on Thursday that 258 runners in total faced sanctions for cheating, a large majority of whom had been filmed by traffic cameras taking shortcuts.

Read more People wave Chinese flags © REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch

Some runners who took shortcuts had removed 2-3km off the full 21km distance, according to Xinhua news agency, which says the cheats face a two-year ban.

Eighteen runners were nabbed wearing fake bib numbers, while three others were exposed as hiring imposters to run for them, reports said. Those runners face an even harsher sanction of a lifetime ban.

The organizers of the event in China’s fourth biggest city issued a statement condemning the cheats’ antics.

"We deeply regret the violations that occurred during the event. Marathon running is not simply exercise, it is a metaphor for life, and every runner is responsible for him or herself," the announcement read.

The People’s Daily meanwhile wrote in an editorial: "Please respect the Marathon, and respect sporting spirit!"

Running is becoming increasingly popular in China, which has seen a surge in the number of marathons and road races from just 22 in 2011 to 1,072 this year, according to the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA), cited by Xinhua.

The rise has been accompanied by concerns over cheating, however, and last year officials at the Beijing half-marathon introduced facial recognition technology to deter people from using imposters to post quicker times on their behalf.

There was also fierce debate earlier this month when Chinese marathon runner He Yinli was accused of desecrating the national flag when she threw it to ground at the Suzhou Marathon, while battling for the race lead.

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