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Ten Chinese snooker players charged in fixing probe

Yan Bingtao is among 10 Chinese players facing match fixing and betting charges. ©AFP

London (AFP) - Top 20-ranked Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao were among 10 Chinese players charged with match-fixing by snooker's global governing body on Wednesday.

All 10 players, who are currently suspended from the World Snooker Tour, have been deemed to have cases to answer by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) following the sport's biggest corruption investigation.

An independent disciplinary tribunal will now be convened to consider the evidence.

The allegations include manipulating games, approaching players to cheat, betting on snooker and fixing a match.

The other players charged are Liang Wenbo, Lu Ning, Li Hang, Zhao Jianbo, Bai Langning, Chang Bingyu, Chen Zifan and Zhang Jiankang.

"Following a detailed investigation by the WPBSA integrity unit, working closely with Sportradar, the WPBSA has decided that 10 snooker players have a case to answer," the governing body said in a statement.

"The players are currently suspended from attending and competing on the World Snooker Tour and in other WPBSA governed events until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter."

Should they be found guilty, lengthy bans could follow, with WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson telling ITV: "It is a heartbreaking situation for those of us who have been in this sport for a long time and have worked to make it the great sport it is.

"That is why we are doing this.We have to have a pure sport which people watch, buy tickets for, we sell our rights around the world; it has to be pure, live competitive sport.

"We are taking this very seriously, we've come out with everything we possibly can.We've been transparent all the way in this process and we will again be transparent at the end of this to give the public and the audience watching the confidence that this sport is still great."

Zhao, who beat Luca Brecel to win the 2021 UK Championship title, is ranked ninth in the world.

Yan is ranked 16th having won the Masters -- another of snooker's 'triple crown' events -- in 2021.

Ferguson, asked if some of those players under investigation could have now taken part in their last competitive match, replied: "Our rules are very clear on this, it does say that for manipulation of the betting rules, up to a lifetime ban can be received by a player from this tribunal.

"It's impossible for me to give an outcome, it is up to that independent sports tribunal to make that decision."

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