Sunday 24 January 2010

Chinese Students Compelled to Cheat in International Marathon

Over 30 high-school students, who are clearly under pressure to enter China’s elite universities, apparently decided to cheat in an international marathon. The motive was to gain extra credits for China’s highly competitive college entrance examinations, so the students needed to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 34 minutes. Considering the world record is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 59 seconds, the high-school students were basically putting themselves forward as professional athletes capable of running marathons in “international class” times.

Question: How many high-school students in this day and age can actually train and run this fast in marathons while simultaneously having the time to study copiously?

Answer: None, it would seem. They all cheated by either 1) hiring imposters to run for them; 2) hiring elite runners to carry their time-recording microchips so that one runner would register two or more finishes simultaneously; or 3) jumping in vehicles for parts of the marathon.

Note: the first option is a commonly used tactic for almost anything in China (especially for taking examinations). There is of course a fourth option, which is to fake one’s qualifications by buying counterfeit certificates (but the use of counterfeit medals and completion certificates from the marathon does not appear to have been used … at least not yet). Using counterfeits is probably outdated.

The Xiamen International Marathon in China was held on 2 January, but Chinese newspaper Jiefang Daily reported the cheating on 21 January. The marathon, one of the biggest in the world, attracted 48,000 participants this year. It is one of 24 IAAF Gold Label Road Races, along with prestigious events such as the London, New York and Tokyo marathons.

Clearly, these high-school students who cheated are not the brightest of students and don’t deserve to enter prestigious universities. Unfortunately, many will eventually enter such universities. Furthermore, HKSARblog cannot help but think just how many students already in China’s elite universities hire imposters to take their examinations for them.

Marathon cheats caught hitching lifts, hiring imposters (Reuters)

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