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December 3, 2018

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Cueists Yu, Cao handed big bans for fixing matches

Two Chinese snooker players were handed long bans at the weekend for fixing matches in one of the sport’s biggest corruption scandals.

Yu Delu and Cao Yupeng admitted to manipulating the scores of matches they played in certain ranking tournaments from 2015-17, following an investigation resulting from suspicious betting patterns.

Yu, ranked No. 52, was handed a suspension of 10 years and nine months, and ordered to pay costs of 20,000 pounds (US$25,000). He was involved in fixing five matches across five tournaments over a period of 2-1/2 years to earn money for himself and friends, and also admitted to lying to investigators and betting on snooker when banned from doing so.

Cao, ranked No. 44, was banned for six years — with 3-1/2 years of that ban suspended — for fixing the outcome of three of his matches in 2016, including one at the prestigious UK Championship, which is currently under way. His suspension was reduced from six years because he showed remorse. He had to pay costs of more than 15,000 pounds.

They are the longest suspensions for fixing since England’s Stephen Lee was banned for 12 years in 2013. Yu would have received a ban of the same length had he not decided late in the probe to plead guilty.

The disciplinary panel of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, which announced the bans, said Yu took “the initiative in offering match-fixing services” and, in one match, “the stakes placed on the result were 65,000 pounds and would have generated a profit of 86,000 pounds.”

“The misconduct of Mr Delu represents a scourge to the game of snooker,” the panel said.

Yu won two of the five matches he agreed to fix, having arranged for the correct score to be 4-3 in frames to either player. Cao, 28, lost all three of the matches he agreed to fix.

“It is very sad,” WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said, “when talented players are attracted to the opportunity to make money from fixing matches.”

Snooker has a massive following in China largely thanks to the exploits of Ding Junhui — who in 2014 became the first Asian player to attain the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Such is the burgeoning popularity of cue sports in China that a 4,000-seat arena is being built in Yushan County in central China. Yushan already hosts the World Open, an international tournament with a nearly US$1 million prize fund — one of six events on Chinese soil on this year’s World Snooker calendar.


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