Shanghai - A woman was caught using a bicycle during a marathon in China,
earning a lifetime ban from the race and adding to a growing number of
scandals to tarnish the sport in the country.
The woman surnamed Meng was filmed brazenly riding the green-coloured
bike in Sunday's Xuzhou International Marathon in the eastern province
Meng, who could face further punishment from China's athletics
association (CAA), was ordered by officials to dismount the bike, but
got back on again afterwards.
Wearing bib number D2113, she finished the race in five hours 38 mins
36 secs, but her time was consequently scrubbed from records.
"After an official found her and stopped her, the participant again
rode (on the bike)," said a statement released Tuesday by organisers,
adding Meng was barred from the marathon in future.
"She violated the rules."
Marathon running is booming in China, but there have been problems.
At November's half-marathon in Shenzhen, southern China, more than 250 runners cheated, including many who took shortcuts.
In the same month, runner He Yinli unwittingly sparked a national
debate about patriotism after an overly enthusiastic volunteer darted
onto the course to hand her a Chinese flag as she vied for victory at
the Suzhou Marathon.
In 2011, there were just 22 marathons, half-marathons or other running events in China, according to the CAA.
However, that figure skyrocketed to nearly 1 100 last year.