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China snooker hands lifetime bans to two players for match-fixing

Lian Wenbo was handed a life ban by the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association. Photo: AFP

China’s national snooker body on Wednesday issued lifetime bans to two players embroiled in a match-fixing scandal that has sent shockwaves through the sport.

Global snooker is reeling after revelations of widespread cheating and other misconduct, much of it involving top Chinese players.

The sport’s international governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), has already punished 10 players from China, including issuing lifetime bans this month for Liang Wenbo and Li Hang.

The body’s national equivalent, the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA), echoed those lifetime sanctions in a statement on Wednesday.

Liang and Li “are prohibited from participating in all snooker matches and events on the Chinese mainland in any form and in any capacity”, the CBSA said.

In a bid to “rectify discipline and learn from past transgressions”, the organisation also handed domestic bans ranging from two to eight years to eight other players.

They include Lu Ning, Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao, Chen Zifan, Zhang Jiankang, Bai Langning, Zhao Jianbo and Chang Bingyu.

The 10 players’ offences included manipulating games, approaching players to cheat, betting on snooker and fixing the outcome of matches.

The CBSA previously vowed to “hold cautionary education across the whole industry and… carry out anti-betting and anti-counterfeiting to the end”.

Some of the sanctions went further than the WPBSA.

Yan, the 2021 Masters champion, was banned from domestic matches for seven and a half years, despite his international ban being reduced to five years following an appeal.

It was not immediately clear whether the affected players would also be able to appeal against the CBSA’s decisions.

The scandal has tarnished the reputation of snooker in China, a hotbed of high-calibre talent in recent years.

The international game will finally return to the lucrative Chinese market this year for the first time since Beijing ended its isolationist zero-Covid policy.

The Asian nation will host three tournaments, including one in the city of Wuhan.

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