Five former Sheffield-based snooker stars among 10 banned after investigation into match-fixing
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Former Sheffield-based Liang Wenbo, aged 36, was banned for life along with Li Hang, aged 32. Liang, a two-time winner of the snooker’s World Cup, was previously suspended for four months after admitting a domestic-related assault charge following an incident on a Sheffield street in 2021.
Other players to be handed a suspension include Lu Ning, Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao, Chen Zifan, Zhang Jiankang, Bai Langning, Zhao Jianbo and Chang Bingyu; with Yan, Lu, Zhao and Chang formerly based in Sheffield.
Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, said: “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 (Liang and Li).
“This behaviour has been recognised as wholly unacceptable by the imposition of two lifetime bans from participating in recognised snooker in any way.
“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.”
Liang was found to have fixed or been a party to fix five snooker matches between July 24 and September 28, 2022 and to have solicited, induced, enticed, persuaded, encouraged, or facilitated players to fix nine matches between July 24 and December 13, 2022.
The WPBSA also found that between September 1, 2019 and December 31, 2022 he bet on snooker matches in breach of the rules and 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.
When aware of the WPBSA enquiry, Liang was also found to have covered up or attempted to cover up his involvement in match-fixing by deleting messages on his phone and by requesting other players deleted messages.
The other players all accepted fixing matches except for Zhao Xintong, who accepted that he was a party to another player fixing two matches and that he had bet on snooker matches.