A Chinese marathon runner who went viral in 2022 after being photographed smoking during a race was disqualified for his habit under the Chinese Athletics Association’s (CAA) new rule against "uncivilized behavior."
What happened: Uncle Chen, known online as “Smoking Brother,” returned to running at the 2024 Xiamen Marathon in Fujian province on Jan. 7 after a two-year hiatus, finishing the 26.2-mile (42.1-kilometer) race in three hours and 33 minutes. But due to his smoking, the organizing committee announced on Jan. 12 that he was disqualified and banned from competing in any event for the next two years.
The committee cited Article 2.12 in the CAA's new Xiamen Marathon rules in its decision. According to the rule, “Uncivilized behavior from runners such as open defecation, smoking or trampling on flower beds or green spaces that affect the race and the safety of other runners will result in disqualification.”
About Chen: Chen co-founded the Zhejiang Xianju Road Running Association and the Zhejiang Provincial Marathon in his hometown of Taizhou City in Zhejiang province. He has competed in several marathons across the country, including the 2018 Guangzhou Marathon and 2019 Xiamen Marathon, where he also chain-smoked his way to the finish line.
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He went viral in 2022 after being photographed running with a lit cigarette in his mouth, prompting the CAA to propose a smoking ban for participants. His disqualification effectively impacts his ranking.
What people are saying: Many Weibo users expressed support in the decision. One even suggested that he should be “banned for life.”
“Nowadays, there are more and more outrageous things happening in marathon races,” another user commented.
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One highlighted the dangers of secondhand smoking. “If a runner who can't smell the smoke happens to take a deep breath when passing by someone who is smoking, it can be quite dangerous,” they wrote.
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