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“A very difficult case.” Chinese snooker star jailed for life for match-fixing

Date: February 26, 2024 Time: 20:45:00

Remember the Chinese match-fixing scandal? Finally, it came to an end. On June 6, the Disciplinary Commission of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) issued a final decision on the fate of the athletes involved in the scandal. Two pool players were banned for life, others had a little better luck.

Revealing a criminal scheme

The match-fixing story first broke in late October 2022, when Chinese star Liang Wenbo was banned from tournaments, but it started much earlier. The WPBSA has released details of a case where the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported suspicious betting to the organization in August 2022. Following that, the WPBSA, together with Sportradar, conducted an investigation, during which nine Chinese billiards players were charged with violating the association’s rules.

The WPBSA contacted Sport Resolutions and requested that an independent attorney be appointed for the court hearings. The independent disciplinary commission was headed by Jan Mill. Hearings were held in London from April 24 to 26, at the height of the World Cup, and on May 3.

How the match-fixing scandal started:

Big scandal in the world of billiards. Star players suspended for match fixing

The final decision on the 10 accused players was made by the commission only on June 6. The instigator Liang Wenbo was found guilty of violating the rules to persuade, incite, seduce, persuade, encourage players or assist them in arranging nine match-fixing from July 24 to December 13, 2022 and from September 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022. , placed bets on prohibited matches. In addition, Wenbo paid bribes, threatened and forced other players to remove match-fixing messages from their phones and not assist the WPBSA in the investigation. In addition, Liang, upon learning of the investigation, tried to hide the fact of his involvement in match-fixing and did not cooperate with the investigation: he did not respond to investigators’ requests for help and did not provide materials requested by the WPBSA.

liang wenbo

Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

Another of the organizers of the scheme, Lee Khan, was found guilty of similar charges, but with a difference: this billiards player helped organize not nine, but seven fixed matches.

As a result, both athletes are banned from snooker competition for life. In addition, Wenbo and Han must pay £43,000 each (about 4.3 million rubles at current exchange rates) as compensation.

champion disqualifications

The remaining eight billiards players were a little luckier. They have been banned for periods ranging from one to five years and are required to pay compensation of £7,500 each (about 756,000 rubles).

Suspension dates for Chinese billiards players:Liang Wenbo – life ban, £43,000 fine; Lee Khan: Life ban, £43,000 fine; Yan Wenbo – banned for 5 years (until 11 Dec 2027), fined £7,500; Zhao Xintong – suspended for 1 year and 8 months (until 1 September 2024), a £7,500 fine; Zhao Jianbo – 2 years and 4 months ban (until 7 April 2025), £7,500 fine; Chang Binyu: 2-year ban (until 7 Dec 2025), £7,500 fine; Bai Lanning – suspended for 2 years and 8 months (until 6 Aug 2025), £7,500 fine; Chen Zifan: 5 years ban (until 20 Dec 2027), £7,500 fine; Lu Ning – disqualified for 5 years and 4 months (until 6 April 2028), £7,500 fine; Zhang Jiankang – ban for 2 years and 11 months (until 1 December 2025), £7,500 fine.

The 2021 Masters winner, Yan Bingtao, played four fixed matches: one in 2016, three more between March 3, 2022 and September 29, 2022. Also from September 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022 , a pool player was betting on matches in violation of the rules. Yan is suspended until December 11, 2027 due to a guilty plea. Initially, the term was an additional 2.5 years.

UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong on March 3 and 11, 2022 was involved in match-fixing another player and from September 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022 bet on matches in violation of the rules . Zhao was only suspended until September 1, 2024, as he pleaded guilty to him, initially the disqualification period was 8 more months.

Yan Wenbo or Zhao Xintong

Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

Lu Ning, who played three regular games in the 2014/2015 season and one on July 23, 2022, received the longest tenure of these eight. Likewise, from September 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022, he placed bets in violation of the rules, and after the investigation began, he tried to hide his participation in the agreements.

The rest of the billiards players are guilty of gambling, participating, attempting to correct the results of the matches they played, or hiding information during the WPBSA investigation.

Once the Brit was severely punished for match-fixing:

“Let him be grounded for life.” The story of the main villain of world billiards

“It was heartbreaking”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson admitted that the match-fixing scandal was a very difficult case for the commission.

“It was a very difficult case. It was heartbreaking to see some talented young players break the WPBSA Rules of Conduct due to pressure from two older players. This behavior was deemed completely unacceptable. Therefore, we have imposed two lifetime bans on any participation in billiards tournaments.

Those who are trying to corrupt the sport are constantly trying to find new ways around our monitoring processes. This commission decision should be taken as a lesson for those who think they can get away with it. If any player is involved in snooker match fixing, he will be caught and severely punished.”

Ferguson said he was pleased the commission found “no evidence of a more developed match-fixing culture in snooker” in the case.

For several accused billiards players, a lengthy suspension could spell the end of their professional billiards career. After all, not everyone, after a five-year suspension, will be able to return to the heights where they were before the scandal. However, all Chinese billiards players who have been convicted by the WPBSA have until June 20, 2023 the opportunity to appeal the commission’s decision.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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