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Fake race numbers, imposters and those cutting corners to face penalties, including lifetime bans
The Shanghai marathon attracted thousands of runners in November, in a sport that is seeing increased participation levels in China. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images
Organisers of the Shenzhen half-marathon have said the 258 participants caught cheating during Sunday’s race will not be able to run away from punishment for their actions.
As many as 18 runners were found to wearing fake bibs, and three were running on behalf of others. They face lifetime bans from the event, the Chinese Xinhua news agency reported.
The 237 others, most of whom had taken shortcuts during the race and were caught out by traffic cameras and local photographers, could be banned for two years.
In the most blatant case, a traffic camera caught runners turning round at least 1km before they were supposed to make a U-turn, potentially shaving about 10% off the 21km race.
Footage shows runners crossing through bushes and trees that separated two parts of the course.
Xinhua quoted organisers as saying: “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.”
Hardly masking its disgust at the widespread cheating, Xinhua branded it “deeply shameful” and added: “No matter the participants or the organisers, they should reflect: What is the significance of participating in and holding marathons?
“Don’t run and forget why you run. Don’t let the marathon turn sour.”
Participants in the Shenzhen marathon, just over the border from Hong Kong, were required to enrol with valid credentials, such as ID cards, residence permits, passports or military ID.
Other marathon events in China are reported to have started using facial recognition technology to track runners.
Competitors in other marathons are now kitted out with electronic chips that register runners’ progress as they pass over timing mats installed around the course. This provides more accurate times – but it also gives organisers, and anyone who cares to look, a wealth of data to examine for suspicious results.
Marathon and leisure running is growing fast in China despite the pollution which often blankets major cities, with participants donning the latest fashionable gear and wearable technology.
In 2011 there were just 22 marathons, half-marathons or other running events in China, according to the Chinese Athletics Association. However, that figure has skyrocketed to nearly 1,100 this year.
China,Marathon running,Asia Pacific,World news