Chinese team has been disqualified in disgrace at the 2019 Military World Games in the Hubei capital of Wuhan after cheating at the sport of orienteering.
Orienteering involves using a topographical map and a compass to navigate from point to point as fast as you can in diverse and typically unfamiliar terrain. In the Middle Distance competition on Sunday, Chinese runners finished in first, second, and fourth place among women and second among men.
This impressive result was quickly thrown into question, however, when a protest was filed by the national teams from Austria, Belgium, France, Poland, Switzerland, and Russia.
According to the International Orienteering Federation (IOF), it was discovered and proven that Chinese runners had “received illegal assistance both by spectators in the terrain, markings and small paths prepared for them and which only they were aware of.”
Other rumors have alleged that the Chinese team even ran the course ahead of time.
— Jarkko Laine (@jarkko) October 20, 2019
The Chinese woman who came in first, Li Meizhen, started orienteering late last year, according to a state media article that describes her struggles with using and understanding a map.
“One’s life may not be a victory, and I just don’t want to lose,” Li is quoted as saying. “Orienteering resembles life which is always with fatigue and hope, difficulty and surprise.”
The jury ruled to disqualify all Chinese runners from the event and not allow them to compete in the Long Distance or final relay competitions.
Though the Chinese team appealed this ruling to the Military World Games, the decision was upheld.
The IOF is actually hosting its World Cup later this month in Guangzhou. In case you’re worried about the sanctity of the sport of orienteering, here’s a statement regarding the Wuhan incident from the organization:
The Military World Games is an event organised under the jurisdiction of the International Military Sports Council (CISM) but through a Memorandum of Understanding with IOF, the IOF rules govern the conduct of the event. The IOF takes the actions of the Chinese team very seriously and is pleased to see that the IOF rules regarding the fairness of competition were enforced by the jury and CISM and that the best solution was found for those athletes who compete within the regulations of the sport. The IOF will be investigating together with CISM how sanctions may be applied to those involved in the improper activities.
Although the event is not an IOF event, the IOF is investigating if any further actions need to be taken to guarantee the fairness of competition at the upcoming World Cup final in Guangzhou, China October 25-29. Military and civilian orienteering in China are completely separated organisationally and the World Cup has been controlled within the structure of the IOF with restrictions on the access to competition information. There is also time to make changes to stop similar types of cheating. However, The IOF will be debriefing the CISM controllers and making further investigations into the nature of the infractions. If verifiable evidence of any improprieties are found the IOF will apply any sanctions necessary to guarantee the fairness of the competitions at the World Cup.
The IOF Council will be meeting in connection with the World Cup final and will as part of the agenda discuss how the negative activities at the Military World Games may affect the IOFs support to developing Chinese orienteering and also the Memorandum of Understanding with CISM.
Finally, the IOF wishes to show its appreciation to the clean athletes and congratulate the medal winners of the Long Distance at the Military World Games 2019.