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Snooker scandal: Masters champion removed for match-fixing

A serious match-fixing scandal has rocked elite snooker. Former Masters champion Yang Bintao has been suspended from the World Snooker Tour as part of an ongoing match-fixing investigation.

China’s Yan, who is ranked 16th in the world, was due to play at the British Open in Brentwood on Monday but was pulled out due to disciplinary proceedings and illegal betting. The 22-year-old’s ban will remain in place until the investigation is completed.

Last week, snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, suspended another five Chinese players in what it said was an organized group.

“Obviously, this is a dark day for snooker. But I believe that eventually this great sport will emerge from the quagmire it has been unfairly pushed into,” WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson told BBC Essex. “99.9 per cent of snooker is joy, but there are always exceptions and we will be uncompromising. Unfortunately, there was a firm decision this morning to remove Yang Bintao as a result of new evidence that came to light as part of the ongoing investigation that began in October,” he added.

The scandal was also commented on by former world champion Neil Robertson, who admitted that he was shocked.

“I’m quite shocked. His name was on the board to play in the early session and then it was taken off,” admitted Robertson.

The disqualified Jan, who became the youngest Masters champion in 26 years by defeating John Higgins in the 2021 final, has the right to appeal the decision.

He was due to play Mark Williams in the first round of the 2023 Masters at London’s Alexandra Palace next month, but is now likely to miss out and be replaced in the draw.

Yan Bintao is the most prominent player to be suspended as part of this investigation. And there is talk among the world’s snooker elite that there could be further sanctions if the investigation gets to the roots of the organized group.

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