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10 professional snooker players banned for match-fixing

Snooker betting scandal sees 10 pros suspended

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) banned 10 professional Chinese snooker players for match-fixing.

The WPBSA previously conducted a probe into 10 professional snooker Chinese players and found them guilty of match-fixing and other charges. Liang Wenbo and Li Hang were among the bunch and were given lifelong bans from professional snooker for violating conduct regulations.

After the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) sent out an alert in August 2022, a disciplinary hearing was held in April and May. Liang was issued a suspension in October, becoming the first Chinese player to receive one in connection with the investigation.

The other eight players were suspended from the activity for lengthy periods after early guilty pleas to their involvement. Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong were included in this group and received bans of five years, one year, and eight months, respectively.

Other suspended players include Chang Bingyu, Zhao Jianbo, Lu Ning, Zhang Jiangkang, Chen Zifan, and Bai Langning. Bingyu was suspended for three years, while Jianbo and Langning were issued bans of three years, six months, and four years, respectively. Jiankang was given a ban of four years and five months.

Zifan and Ning received the longest suspensions out of the group, with seven years and six months, and eight years, respectively.

The WPBSA stated in its summary that, upon investigation, Liang and Li were discovered to be the main instigators of several cases of match-fixing between July and September 2022.

According to Jason Ferguson, WPBSA’s chairman, a faction of the other players joined the duo, while a few made illegal bets of their own.

“It has been heartbreaking to see some talented young players fall foul of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations through pressure exerted by two senior players,” Ferguson said.

“This behaviour has been recognised as wholly unacceptable by the imposition of two lifetime bans from participating in recognised snooker in any way.

“Those who try to corrupt the sport are constantly trying to find new ways to avoid our monitoring process, and this outcome must be taken as a lesson to those who think they can avoid detection. If any player is involved in fixing a snooker match, they will be caught and will face severe penalties.”

All 10 players were also issued financial penalties ranging from $9,300 to $53,000. They were given until June 20 to appeal the WPBSA’s decision.

The Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association also commented on the situation and reiterated its zero-tolerance stance on “unsportsmanlike behaviour such as gambling and match-fixing.”

The IBIA was integral to the WPBSA’s investigation, supplying detailed information about the players’ suspicious behaviours and performances. The association listed several matches that drew attention to the players’ behaviours.

These include the Bai Langning vs. Zhou Xintong and Chang Binyu vs. Jamie Jones matches in the British Open. Aaron Hill vs. Zhao Jianbo and Yuan Sinjun vs. Jimmy White’s games in the Northern Ireland Open Qualifiers also drew much attention, in addition to the Lu Ning vs. Robert Milkins match in the European Masters Qualifiers.

In a statement, the CEO of the IBIA, Khalid Ali, revealed that the organisation supported the sanctions against the players. He also said the decision sends “a very clear message to all athletes about the risks of engaging in match-fixing.”

Most online betting sites, both in regulated and grey markets, have got markets available on professional snooker tournaments.

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