Snooker Champion Yan Bingtao Suspended for Match Fixing

  • 22-year-old Yan Bingtao is being investigated for participating in match fixing
  • Seven professional snooker players have been suspended since October
  • Yan won the 2014 Amateur World Snooker Championship at just 14 years old
  • One high-profile case saw the world’s number-five player receive a 12-year ban
Snooker balls
Chinese snooker player Yan Bingtao has been suspended while the World Snooker Tour conducts an investigation into match fixing concerns. [Shutterstock.com]

Yan Bingtao banned for match fixing

Chinese snooker player Yan Bingtao has been suspended from the World Snooker Tour (WST) as part of an investigation into match fixing allegations.

“The suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the investigation or any subsequent charges that may or may not be brought,” the WST said in a statement on Monday. Bingtao has the opportunity to appeal the suspension.

youngest player to win the Amateur World Snooker Championship

Yan Bingtao, 22, became the youngest player to win the Amateur World Snooker Championship after he beat Muhammad Sajjad 8–7 in 2014 at just 14 years old. He was the 16th-ranked snooker player in the world as of December 5 and had been ranked as high as 10 in his career.

A series of suspensions

Yan was set to appear at the English Open Monday morning, a weeklong professional tournament with a near-$500,000 prize pool. He was ruled out in accordance with his suspension shortly before the tournament kicked off, and his first opponent, Ashley Hugill, was granted a pass.

Needless to say, it is a startling development for a player that had been fast-tracked to success from an immensely young age. It also does not seem like the picture will get any clearer in the immediate future, barring any major twists in the case.

“No further comment will be made except in the event of any significant further developments,” said the WST in its statement.

recent string of suspensions

Yan is the most noteworthy player to be targeted in a recent string of suspensions. Last week, Lu Ning, Li Hang, Zhao Jianbo, Bai Langning, and Chang Bingyu were all issued notices banning them from competing in WST-sanctioned events. Fellow Chinese countryman Liang Wenbo was also suspended in October for similar concerns. 

The decision will shake up the upcoming January Masters competition in which Yan was due to appear. He won the 2021 Masters, his debut at the event, before being ousted by Mark Williams 4-6 in the first round in early 2022. 

Other offenses in sports

The decisions to suspend Yan and the seven other players were made by Jason Ferguson, Chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA). Separate statements were released in October and December, in addition to this week, announcing the series of suspensions.

The WPBSA is investigating “allegations of manipulating the outcome of matches for betting purposes in breach of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations.” In layman’s terms, match fixing.

Match fixing is one of the most serious crimes in all levels of sports. Last month, a UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke shockingly ended 67 seconds into the first round immediately after inexplicably large sums of money poured into several sportsbooks. Minner and his coach, James Krause, were subsequently banned from the UFC after a joint investigation involving the FBI.

Last year, Joe Jogia was banned for two years after the WPBSA found him guilty of infringing upon betting-related regulations. 

One of the largest cases of match fixing in snooker involves former world number five, Stephen Lee, who was suspended indefinitely in 2012 due to offenses at eight events. Two years later, his suspension was confirmed for a total of 12 years. 

Investigators revealed that Lee was in contact with three groups of people who won a total of around $136,000 (at the current exchange rate) by betting on Lee at various WPBSA-sponsored events. He will be eligible to return to the sport on his 50th birthday on October 12, 2024.