Chinese marathon organizers promise action against 258 cheats

The organizers of a half-marathon in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have vowed that 258 participants caught cheating during last weekend's race will not be able to run away from punishment.

18 runners wearing fake bibs, 3 impostors face lifetime bans from Shenzhen race

China has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years in the number of marathons held in big cities such as Hong Kong, where runners are shown here. But a recent half-marathon race in Shenzhen featured a unique challenge — more than 200 cheaters. (REUTERS)

The organizers of a half-marathon in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have vowed that 258 participants caught cheating during last weekend's race will not be able to run away from punishment.

As many as 18 runners found to be 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 by traffic cameras and local photographers, could be banned for two years.

Watch as cheating runners break through a barrier during the race:

"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 organizers as saying.

News of the cheating has caused outrage in China, prompting the People's Daily newspaper, in an editorial, to urge runners to "respect the marathon and respect sporting spirit."

A sharp rise in the number of events in recent years and mass participation have 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.