The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has banned two professional Chinese snooker players for life and suspended a further eight.
In what is being described as one of the biggest scandals in British sport, the case refers to match-fixing amongst other charges. Liang Wenbo and Li Hang have been banned for life with the remaining eight suspended for a total of 27 years after pleading guilty.
Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao were amongst the further eight, two extremely well-known names in the sport, who have now been banned for one year and eight months, and five years, respectively.
Bingtao was initially suspended by the WST in December 2022 with immediate effect as part of the ongoing investigation.
Lu Ning, Zhao Jianbo, Chang Bingyu, Bai Langning, Chen Zifan and Zhang Jiangkang have also now banned for between two and eight years, but admitting guilt has helped reduce the length of their punishment.
WPBSA Chairman, Jason Ferguson, stated: “This has been a very complex case. It has been heart-breaking to see some young talented players fall foul of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations through pressure exerted by two senior players.
“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 sport are constantly trying to find new ways to avoid our monitoring processes 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.”
The case initially came to light after an alert in August last year from the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA). The WPBSA Integrity Unit then worked with Sportradar to investigate the issue.
IBIA CEO, Khalid Ali, has detailed the organisation’s support of the decision, adding that it was made possible with the concentrated efforts of IBIA’s members who provided the initial necessary data to spot the irregular patterns.
He said: “IBIA’s responsible regulated betting operators have a significant incentive to help crack-down on match-fixing, which is aimed at defrauding those companies.
“Our leading market position enables us to provide a highly accurate analysis and effective deterrent against corruption in the regulated sports betting market. IBIA is committed to being at the forefront of this preventative action globally.”
The Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association has also acknowledged in a statement the manipulation of match results, reiterating its zero-tolerance approach to “unsportsmanlike behaviour such as gambling and match-fixing”.