Chinese snooker players Liang Wenbo and Li Hang have been handed lifetime bans from the sport by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association for their role in a match-fixing scandal involving eight more of their countrymen.
Liang and Li were found by an independent disciplinary commission on Tuesday to have fixed five matches in July, then encouraged or put pressure on others to fix matches between July and December.
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Liang is a former finalist in the UK Championship, one of the biggest events on the snooker calendar. The pair have until June 20 to appeal against the decision.
A total of 10 Chinese players were sanctioned by the World Snooker Tour, including Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong – two of the biggest names in the sport.
Yan – the 2021 Masters champion – was handed a five-year ban and Zhao – the UK Championship winner from the same year – was banned for one year and eight months.
An investigation was launched following an alert in August from the International Betting Integrity Association and World Snooker’s integrity unit. The 10 players were then suspended pending an investigation.
“It has been heartbreaking to see some young talented players fall foul of the [World Snooker] Conduct Regulations through pressure exerted by two senior players,” said Jason Ferguson, chairman of World Snooker.
“This behaviour has been recognised as wholly unacceptable by the imposition of two lifetime bans from participating in recognized snooker in any way.”
Ferguson said he was pleased the commission did not find “any evidence of a wider culture of wrongdoing in snooker”.
“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,” he added.