4 Chinese badminton players guilty of not playing seriously

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Four Chinese badminton players are on two-year probation for not trying their best to win a doubles match in 2018.

The incident happened during the quarter-finals of the Fuzhou Open in China in November 2018.

Next, Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen, ranked No. 2 in the world, faced He Ji Ting and Tan Qiang, ranked No. 17.

The observing Danish players signaled to the referee that the match was not being played seriously. The referee and tournament director intervened in the second match as He and Tan led 21-15, 7-11.

The ref and referee asked both teams to play their best. After the intervention, the game noticeably increased in intensity and speed and He and Tan won 21-15, 14-21, 21-19 but all four players were charged.

In interviews the following month, the players denied any wrongdoing and spoke of their familiarity with each other’s game. Li and Liu added that they were in poor physical shape after a long, generally successful year.

A disciplinary hearing did not take place until November and December 2021, during which tournament referee Pencho Stoynov said he had never seen an incident like this in his 14-year career as a ‘arbitrator.

The Badminton World Federation revealed on Friday that the panel found the players guilty of not doing their best. They each received a three-month ban, suspended for two years from January 25. They also had to give up their prize money from the Fuzhou Open, $12,250 for He and Tan and $2,187.50 for Li and Liu.

Li retired last November after winning the Tokyo Olympics silver medal, the senior and junior world championships, the Sudirman Cup, the Thomas Cup and the Asian championships with Liu.

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