Match-fixing a 'cancer in any sport,' says Ken Doherty who is saddened by snooker scandal

January 5, 2023
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

2020 Coral World Grand Prix - Day 3
Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong are both suspended amid a match-fixing investigation (Picture: Getty Images)

Former world champion Ken Doherty is shocked and saddened by the ongoing match-fixing scandal in snooker, describing fixing as a ‘cancer in any sport’.

There are currently 10 players banned from competing in or attending World Snooker Tour events ‘as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of manipulating the outcome of matches for betting purposes’.

Zhao Xintong and Zhang Jiankang became the latest to be suspended this week, joining Yan Bingtao, Chen Zifan, Liang Wenbo, Lu Ning, Li Hang, Zhao Jianbo, Bai Langning and Chang Bingyu to be barred from the professional tour.

The most notable being current top 16 players Zhao Xintong, 25, and Yan Bingtao, 22, who have both won major titles in the last two years.

Charges have not yet been made, with the suspensions in place until the investigation is completed as a WPBSA statement confirmed, adding: ‘The wider investigation is now at an advanced stage, and it is anticipated will be completed shortly at which point any potential charges will be considered.’

Doherty, who won the 1997 World Championship and is still playing on the professional tour, is stunned by the ongoing scandal and thought that match-fixing problems were in the past.

‘It’s shocking, I’m deeply shocked but more than that I’m deeply saddened,’ Doherty told the Talking Snooker podcast.

‘We thought we were rid of it when Steven Lee was guilty of multiple charges over a long period of time. There there were a couple of others in Cao Yupeng and Yu Delu.

‘But we thought, particularly with Steven Lee, because it was such a heavy ban of 12 years, we thought it was a really strong message to players that they cannot get away with it.

‘For the life of me I cannot understand why Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong and the others are caught up in this controversy. Particularly those two lads because they are flag-bearers for Chinese snooker, they’ve done so well in the last couple of years, made a lot of money, guaranteed a lot of money as top 16 players, been very successful.

‘Why on Earth would you want to get caught up in this, what is a cancer in any sport. It’s almost like greed and that’s one of the worst sins of all.’

While it is undoubtedly a terrible spell for the sport, Doherty is at least pleased to see the problem being dealt with and anyone found guilty hopefully dealt with severely.

‘The only positive thing I would say about it is that we’ve caught them and they will be dealt with severely, and so they should be,’ the Irishman continued.

‘The intricacies of each of the cases, and they’ll all be different, they’ll be severely dealt with and there’ll be no stone left unturned. There’s no winners in this.’

World Snooker China Open - Day 2
Former world champion Ken Doherty has backed snooker to come through the crisis (Picture: Getty Images)

Zhao Xintong was due to play Mark Selby in the first round of the Masters on Sunday night, but is now set to be replaced by Hossein Vafaei.

The Alexandra Palace event is one of the highlights of the snooker calendar and Doherty hopes it will be a chance for the sport to shine through the controversy.

‘As dark as this time has been with all these suspensions, the game is too much loved by the people, by the supporters,’ he said. ‘They know in every game there is always going to be a bad element here and there, but the most important thing is the game will always survive because it’s a great sport.

‘It’s a wonderful sport and the guys, mostly, play it because they love it and play it with the greatest integrity.

‘By in large they’re good sportsman, the game is a great sport and it’s loved by the people. That will be shown at the Masters, other events and the Crucible.

‘The game will always survive.’

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