China’s entire national orienteering team was kicked out of the Military World Games on Friday because it was caught cheating, apparently with the assistance of spectators.
Orienteering is essentially a combination of long-distance running and pathfinding. Contestants are expected to navigate across difficult terrain as quickly as possible using a map and compass, visiting a series of control points along the way.
According to the International Orienteering Federation (IOF), the Chinese team took a number of top spots in both men’s and women’s orienteering at the Military World Games, which are being held in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The games drew about 10,000 athletes, coaches, and officials.
After the competition, administrators discovered the Chinese athletes were “illegally aided by spectators and had used markings and small paths prepared for them during Sunday’s race,” as the BBC put it. The results of the orienteering competition were annulled after complaints from other teams.
The IOF rejected an appeal from China and stated the entire competition was “unfortunately overshadowed by extensive cheating by the Chinese team.”
“The Ministry of Defence, whose People’s Liberation Army are joint organisers of the games, did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” AFP reported on Friday.
The UK Guardian cheekily suggested the Chinese orienteering team must have lost its moral compass and described the incident as a tremendous embarrassment for China, which was hosting the Military World Games for the first time. The opening ceremony on October 18 was presided over by Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
“News of the disqualification was not widely reported in Chinese media on Thursday, in contrast to reports this week celebrating the team’s wins,” the Guardian noted.
AFP noted that Chinese athletes have recently been caught taking shortcuts and using bicycles in marathon races, while the BBC recalled three Chinese runners getting banned for life from the Boston Marathon in April for rules infractions, including the use of forged paperwork to get into the race.