Race organizers said the man who completed the race smoking cigarettes displayed “uncivilized behaviour”.
A 52-year-old athlete, identified in media reports as “Uncle Chen”, who chain-smoked during a full marathon in China, has been retroactively disqualified after race organizers decided his actions violated governing rules. “Uncivilized behaviour.”
The cigarette lover completed the Xiamen Marathon on January 7 in a very respectable time frame – three hours and 33 minutes.
His feat became even more remarkable after video footage from the race showed Chen smoking cigarettes as he navigated the 26.2-mile course on his way to 574th place out of more than 1,500 competitors.
However, the photos – which quickly spread online – appear to have led to Chen's downfall and subsequent removal from office last week. Race organizers determined that his actions during the event violated the governing rules “Uncivilized behaviour” Which prevents runners from engaging in a range of activities, from defecating on the track to stepping on flower beds.
Chinese marathon runner disqualified for smoking on track. 52-year-old Uncle Chen, known as “Smoking Brother”, was disqualified from the Xiamen Marathon despite finishing the race in 3 hours and 33 minutes on January 7, 2024. His habit of smoking while running has been a topic of discussion since 2018. pic.twitter.com/HoahC5d7A9
-Bore Cure (@CureBore) January 19, 2024
“Uncivilized behavior by runners such as open defecation, smoking or trampling on flower beds or green spaces affecting the race and the safety of other runners will result in their disqualification.” Article 2.12 of the Xiamen Marathon rules says.
The rule was implemented last year by the China Athletics Association (CAA) as part of efforts to help promote healthy competition in Chinese society and discourage smoking during sporting activities.
Chen, who has earned the nickname “Smoking Brother”, has previously received attention for his tobacco habit, with photos of him smoking during the Guangzhou Marathon also appearing online. He completed this race in a time of three hours and 35 minutes, three minutes less than the time he covered in Xiamen earlier this month.
A year later, the chain-smoking Chen completed the Xiamen race – this time in three hours and 32 minutes. Oddly enough, it has been noted in local reports in China that Uncle Chen only smokes during marathons – and stays away from tobacco outside of competition.
Chen's smoking habit does not appear to have limited his athletic prowess. The Canadian “Running Magazine” noted that he has participated in numerous marathons ranging in duration from 50 kilometers (31 mi) to 12 hours.
Smoking is widely accepted in China, a country that has about 300 million smokers – nearly a third of the world's total number of smokers. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of Chinese men are tobacco smokers.
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