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Liang Wenbo and Li Hang handed lifetime snooker bans for match-fixing as eight others also banned

Jamie Shaw in Snooker News

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Liang looks on (Credit: Taka G Wu/Alamy Live News)

Liang Wenbo and Li Hang have been handed lifetime bans from snooker for match-fixing, while eight other players have received lengthy bans in the sport’s biggest corruption scandal.

The ten players, all from China, learned their fate on Tuesday June 6 following a lengthy investigation by the independent WPBSA Disciplinary Commission.

The allegations include fixing matches, approaching other players to cheat and betting on snooker.

Liang and Li were both found guilty of a string of charges, including that they fixed or were party to fixing matches; encouraged or facilitated other players to fix matches and attempting to cover up their involvement in match fixing while aware of the enquiry.

Yan Bingtao, the 2021 Masters champion, has received a five-year ban, exiling him from competition until December 2017, while 2021 UK Champion Zhao Xintong has been suspended for one year and eight months.

Lu Ning, Zhao Jianbo, Chang Bingyu, Bai Langning, Chen Zifan and Zhang Jiankang have all received bans in excess of two years.

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said: “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.

“I am pleased that the Commission found that they did not see from the present case “any evidence of a wider culture of wrongdoing in snooker.

“The WPBSA will continue its strong stance against those who try to manipulate sport and today’s outcome sends out a clear message that match fixing will not be tolerated in snooker.”

The independent WPBSA Disciplinary Commission’s decision on punishments are as follows:

  • Liang Wenbo has been given a lifetime from snooker and is to pay £43,000 in costs.
  • Li Hang has been given a lifetime from snooker and is to pay £43,000 in costs.
  • Lu Ning has been given an 8 year suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 5 years and 4 months until 6 April 2028. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Yan Bingtao has been given a 7 year and 6 months suspension, reduced following early admissions and plea of guilty, to 5 years until 11 December 2027. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Zhao Xintong has been given a 2 year and 6 months suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 1 year and 8 months until 1 September 2024. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Zhao Jianbo has been given a 3 year and 6 months suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 2 years and 4 months until 7 April 2025. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Chang Bingyu has been given a 3 year suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 2 years until 7 December 2024. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Bai Langning has been given a 4 year suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 2 years and 8 months until 6 August 2025. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Chen Zifan has been given a 7 year and 6 months suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 5 years until 20 December 2027. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.
  • Zhang Jiankang has been given a 4 year and 5 months suspension, reduced following early admissions and his plea of guilty, to 2 years and 11 months until 1 December 2025. He is to pay £7,500 in costs.

 

The players have been given until June 20 to appeal the sanctions.

The Disciplinary Commission’s findings

Liang Wenbo has been found in to be in breach of the Conduct Regulations:

  • That he fixed or was a party to fix five snooker matches between 24th July and 28th September 2022
  • That he solicited, induced, enticed, persuaded, encouraged, or facilitated players to fix nine matches between 24th July and 13th December 2022
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.
  • That he behaved in conduct that was corrupt by threatening another player and making him delete his messages on his phone.
  • That he threatened another player to seek to persuade him not to assist the WPBSA enquiry.
  • That he on or after 1st September 2022 when aware of the WPBSA enquiry covered up or attempted to cover up his involvement in
  • match fixing by deleting messages on his mobile phone and by requesting that other players deleted messages on their phones.
  • That he failed to cooperate with the WPBSA enquiry by failing to attend interviews and provide material requested by the WPBSA enquiry.

Li Hang has been found to be in breach of the Conduct Regulations:

  • That he fixed or was a party to fix five snooker matches between 24th July and 29th September 2022
  • That he solicited, induced, enticed, persuaded, encouraged or facilitated players to fix seven snooker matches between 24th July and 13th December 2022.
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.
  • That he on or after 1st September 2022 when aware of the WPBSA enquiry covered up or attempted to cover up his involvement in match fixing by deleting messages on his mobile phone and by requesting that other players deleted messages on their phones.

Lu Ning was found not to have been involved in inducing others to fix matches. He accepted the following:

  • That in the 2014-15 season he fixed three snooker matches that he played in.
  • That he on 23rd July 2022 he fixed one snooker match that he played in.
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.
  • That he on or after 1st September 2022 when aware of the WPBSA enquiry covered up or attempted to cover up his involvement in match fixing by deleting messages on his mobile phone.

Yan Bingtao accepted the following:

  • That he on 29th August 2016 fixed one match that he played in
  • That he between 3rd March 2022 and 29th September 2022 fixed three snooker matches that he played in.
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.

Zhao Xintong accepted the following:

  • That he on 3rd March and 11th March 2022 he was a party to another player fixing two snooker matches.
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.

Zhao Jianbo accepted the following:

  • That he on 26th August 2022 fixed a snooker match that he was playing in
  • That he bet on the snooker match that he fixed.

Chang Bingyu accepted that he on 28th September 2022 had fixed a snooker match that he was playing in.

Bai Langning accepted that he on 26th September 2022 had fixed a snooker match that he was playing in.

Chen Zifan accepted the following:

  • That he between 24th July and 23rd August 2022 fixed or contrived, or were a party to an effort to fix or contrive the result or score of three snooker matches that he played in

Zhang Jiankang accepted the following:

  • That he on 22nd July 2022 fixed a match that he was playing in
  • That between 1st September 2019 and 31st December 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules.
  • That he failed to provide information requested by the WPBSA