BRISTOL, England (AP) Two Chinese snooker players were handed long bans on Saturday 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 in the Far East.
Yu, ranked No. 52, was handed a suspension of 10 years and nine months, and ordered to pay costs of 20,000 pounds ($25,000). He was involved in fixing five matches across five tournaments over a period of 2½ 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 3½ years of that ban suspended for fixing the outcome of three of his matches in 2016, including one at the prestigious UK Championship. His suspension was reduced from six years because he showed remorse. He had to pay costs of more than 15,000 pounds ($19,800).
They are the longest suspensions for fixing since English player 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 investigation 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 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."