Facial recognition will be deployed at a Chinese marathon on Sunday to prevent cheating, state media have reported.

The crackdown comes after competitors at a half marathon in Shenzhen were caught by traffic cameras taking a shortcut through bushes, cutting almost two miles off the route.

News agency Xinhua branded the cheaters “deeply shameful” after footage revealed contestants running across a traffic barrier instead of following it until they came to a U-turn at the end.

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A total of 237 runners were caught cheating, and the organisers said they will be banned from future events for two years.

Of these, 46 were found to have cut corners while others cheated in a variety of other ways, including hiring other people to run in their place.

Race organisers said they “deeply regretted” the violations, reminding participants that “marathon running is not simply exercise, it is a metaphor for life”.

To avoid a repetition of these actions, authorities have vowed to get tough on cheating at the upcoming Kunming Marathon, which is expected to attract 6,000 runners including athletes from around the world.

According to Xinhua, “competitors must carry a valid ID and carry out verification through the facial-identification system”.

Running and marathons are increasingly popular pastimes in China, and are the latest in a long list of activities to be monitored using facial recognition software.

China has been rolling the technology out across the country in situations ranging from fast-food orders to airline check-ins and catching criminals.

Authorities in Shenzen use giant screens to publicly name and shame people who flout the city’s strict road rules, and plan to use facial recognition software to help catch them.

Chinese police are also trialling new surveillance software in major cities that can identify people based on the shape and movement of their silhouette from up to 50m away, even if their face is hidden.

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