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Three Chinese runners accused of cheating in Boston Marathon

Three Chinese runners are accused of cheating in the 2019 Boston Marathon.
Three Chinese runners are accused of cheating in the 2019 Boston Marathon. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

Three Chinese runners accused of cheating in the 2019 Boston Marathon have been banned from running in any road races in China, according to China’s official news agency.

The Xinhua news agency reported that one of the runners allegedly gave his bib number to other people and the other two allegedly cheated their way into the marathon by forging their personal best result certificates to meet the Boston Marathon’s qualification standard.

They have subsequently been banned for life from competing in China by the Chinese Athletic Association, which serves as the country’s governing body of the sport, according to Xinhua.

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Officials from the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon, said in a statement that they were disappointed by the allegations.

“Although the recent cheating allegations are a disappointment, we are highly confident that the vast majority of the field works hard, trains through all conditions, and brings integrity and good sportsmanship to our course,” BAA officials said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe.

On the Chinese Athletic Association webpage, the runners were identified as Wu Zhaofeng, Zhao Baoying, and Zhang Jianhua, all of whom of “abnormal results in the 2019 Boston Marathon.” The spelling for the runners was produced by using the Google translating tool on the CAA webpage.

“All the three runners were hit with a life ban from all road running races under the CAA,” the Xinhua news agency reported. “The CAA also reiterated that it will continue to crack down all kinds of cheats in marathon in order to build a healthy and clean environment of road running in China.”

According to the Boston Athletic Association website, 620 Chinese citizens entered the 2019 Boston Marathon, and of the 537 who ran in the race, 534 finished.

According to BAA results, a woman with a name similar to the one listed on the CAA webpage finished last week’s race at 5 hours and 50 minutes, far slower than the BAA’s qualifying standard of 3 hours and 35 minutes for women between the ages of 18 to 34.

China has experienced a surge in interest in marathon running. In 2011, only 22 marathon races were overseen by the CAA; last year the total had exploded to 1,581 sanctioned races, the government news agency reported.

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“Although the number of races has increased rapidly, many Chinese runners still consider running in the World Marathon Major series, especially in the Boston Marathon known for its high-level entry standard, would be something worthy of showing off on social media,’’ the government news agency reported.

The Boston Athletic Association has acknowledged that while “the overwhelming majority” of people who run the Boston Marathon follow the rules, each year “a small number of participants aim to take part and/or finish through improper means.”

“The B.A.A. conducts a thorough post-race assessment of all Boston Marathon results to ensure that finishers, times, and placings are accurate and correct,” BAA officials said in the statement e-mailed to the Globe. “As to athletes’ qualification races, we rely in the first instance on the organizers of the many sanctioned races in which athletes qualify to assure compliance with fairness in their races, and we know that it is important to them to uphold those standards. We take seriously allegations of improper methods of entry or falsified results.”

BAA officials said that participants who cheat, falsely misrepresent themselves, or gain entry to the Boston Marathon through improper means are subject to disqualification and may not participate in future BAA events, including the Boston Marathon.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney

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