London, Jun 7 (IANS): Chinese snooker players Liang Wenbo and Li Hang have been handed lifetime bans as part of a group of 10 players penalized by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) for match-fixing.
The WPBSA issued a statement on Tuesday, confirming that the ten players were charged with match-fixing offenses. It pronounced lifetime bans for Liang and Li and imposed significant suspensions for the other players involved, reports Xinhua.
Liang, 36, who has been under suspension from snooker events since last October, was found guilty of manipulating or participating in the manipulation of five snooker matches, attempting to persuade or enable other players to fix nine matches. He also bet on snooker matches and failed to cooperate with the WPBSA investigation.
Li, 32, was also charged with match-fixing and inciting or facilitating other players to manipulate match outcomes.
Additionally, the 2021 Master champion Yan Bingtao has been handed a five-year ban until 11 December 2027. Zhao Xintong, with two ranking titles to his name, received a suspension of one year and eight months, set to expire on 1 September 2024.
"This has been a very complex case. It has been heartbreaking to see some young talented players fall foul of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations through pressure exerted by two senior players," said WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson. "This behavior has been recognised as wholly unacceptable by the imposition of two lifetime bans from participating in recognized snooker in any way."
Zhao, 26, issued an apology on his social media account. "I have been thoroughly regretting my ignorance and silliness since being suspended a few months ago. I feel ashamed as I disappointed everybody by making a mistake. I just want to say sorry to everyone."
Zhao insisted that he had never fixed any match or even contemplated match-fixing, but he failed to refuse a friend's request to assist with betting. "I didn't make any profit from it, but I paid a heavy price for my foolishness."