(Reuters) - Shenzhen Half-Marathon organisers have vowed that the 258 participants caught cheating during last weekend’s race will not be able to run away from punishment for their actions.
As many as 18 runners found to wearing fake bibs, as well as three impostors, face lifetime bans from the event, the Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
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.
“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,” Xinhua quoted organisers as saying.
News of the cheating has caused outrage in China, prompting the People’s Daily to urge runners to “respect the marathon and respect sporting spirit” in an editorial.
A sharp rise in the number of events in recent years and mass participation has also been blamed for the problem.
China has held 1,072 marathons and road races this year, up from 22 in 2011, according to the Xinhua report, quoting figures from the Chinese Athletics Association.
A user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo said: “There are too many marathons in China nowadays and too many so-called runners, but runners who really love running are still in short supply.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien