How slowly does a runner have to finish a race to cause a scandal?
The video showed the woman far outclassed, and not even in the frame with the other runners almost immediately after the 100m race began. The woman finished about 10 seconds behind the winner, finishing in about 21 seconds.
The viral moment at the World University Games in China on Tuesday sparked outrage online and accusations of nepotism.
“It’s disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running? It’s truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally,” said Elham Garaad, in one of the posts that was shared widely.
The incident has resulted in the suspension of Khadijo Aden Dahir, the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation, after an untrained and non-athlete runner was sent to take part, the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports said Wednesday. She will also be subject to legal proceedings, it said.
Dahir is accused of “abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation” in the international arena, the ministry said in a statement posted on social media. The ministry said the woman in the race is not a runner.
There have been allegations the woman was a relative of Dahir’s and was given the chance to compete because of it, The Associated Press reported.
Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Barre Mohamud apologized and said his ministry did not know how the 20-year-old was selected to compete in the 100-meter race, the AP reported.
The Association of Somali Universities said in a statement that it did not send any runners to compete in the event.
The FISU World University Games is for student-athletes and is held every two years. This year, it is being held in Chengdu.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.
The Associated Press