Four Chinese badminton players have been punished for breaking anti-corruption rules by failing to try their best in a doubles match, the sport’s governing body said Friday. 

He Ji Ting, Tan Qiang, Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen have been hit with three-month bans, but the sentences have been suspended for two years, the Badminton World Federation said.

AFP China badminton players
Chinese badminton players Tan Qiang (left) and He Ji Ting during the men’s doubles semi-final at the All England Open Badminton Championship at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham, England, on March 19, 2022. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

If there are any repeat offences within two years, the bans will take effect.

The rule-breaking took place at the Fuzhou China Open in 2018 when Li and Liu faced He and Tan in the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles. 

Another player watching the game raised the alarm with officials due to suspicions that the doubles pairs were not making their best efforts to win the match. 

During an interval in the game, the officials urged the players to put in more effort. Their performances then improved significantly, and He and Tan went on to defeat their higher-ranked rivals.

Badminton authorities lodged a complaint and, after a lengthy probe, a panel found the players had broken rules aimed at combating corruption by failing to use their best efforts to win a match. 

Two other charges, including that they sought to fix the outcome of the match, were dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

The players had denied all the charges.

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