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How 2 Beijing Runners Got Caught Cheating & Banned for Life

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Two runners who participated in Beijing Half Marathon 2023 – which took place on April 16 – have been found by the event’s organizing committee to have cheated during the race and have subsequently received life-time bans from the competition. 

According to a statement posted on the event’s official website, a male participant surnamed Yin swapped race numbers – in which the race timing microchip is contained – with a female participant surnamed Hao. 

As well as citing competition rules, the statement also made clear that the organizing committee acted according to chapter 4, article 51 of Sports Law of the People’s Republic of China.

Both participants have been officially disqualified from the race, meaning the times in which they finished the competition are effectively void. 

The participants can appeal the committee’s decision within five days of the decision. 

According to SINA Running – a news site covering all running- and marathon-related matters – the race number issued to Yin was A4093, while Hao was issued with number B9973. 

During the race, Yin and Hao appeared to swap numbers. Yin finished the race in a time of 1 hour 48 minutes with the number B9973, effectively helping Hao to achieve this time in the race’s official results. 

How were they caught?

SINA Running goes on to explain that other participants in the competition became suspicious when they noticed Yin and Hao’s photos taken before the start of the race.

The photos were uploaded onto an official platform and showed the runners wearing the respective numbers to which they were assigned. 

Another photo during the race shows a male participant – who we can presume is Yin – wearing the number B9973, the number to which Hao was assigned.


A picture of Yin wearing number B9973 during the race. Image via Weibo/@新浪跑步

The pair engaged in a common ‘bib-swapping’ tactic used by marathon cheats the world over.

According to running blog Podium Runner, microchips were first introduced into marathons in 1998 and were originally attached to runners’ shoes. Nowadays, said microchips tend to be placed inside the runners’ number which is pinned to their clothing. 

The ‘chip time’ – different from the ‘gun time’ – is an accurate way to measure how long a runner takes to complete a race route from the starting line (getting to which can sometimes take valuable seconds or even minutes during races with lots of participants) to the finish line.

However, this also opens an avenue for marathon cheats to have more capable runners finish the marathon under their race number, effectively falsifying their race time. 

Fortunately, marathon organizers are now operating in an age where gaining photographic evidence has never been easier, something the two cheaters in Beijing learned the hard way.  

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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How 2 Beijing Runners Got Caught Cheating & Banned for Life Reviewed by RP on May 19, 2023 Rating: 5

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