Top table tennis trio fined but no ban on playing

AFP
Table tennis authorities hit world No. 1 Ma Long and two other Chinese stars with US$20,000 fines yesterday but stopped short of suspending them.
AFP

Table tennis authorities hit world No. 1 Ma Long and two other Chinese stars with US$20,000 fines yesterday but stopped short of suspending them after they had quit a tournament in “protest” at their coach’s removal.

The International Table Tennis Federation said Ma, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin — the three top-ranked players in the world — “damaged the reputation of the ITTF” and “let down the global fans at the China Open.”

But it said in a statement that it had resisted a one-month ban after the three promised there would be no repeat in future and explained why they had failed to turn up for their round-of-16 matches in southwest China’s Chengdu in June.

The ITTF did not repeat the reasons given by the players, but at the time — in a rare show of dissent from Chinese sportsmen — they said they were too heartbroken to play after head coach Liu Guoliang was demoted.

Dubbed the “Chengdu Three” for their actions, they later apologized and China’s all-conquering table tennis team closed ranks.

“The trio did not provide the ITTF or the organizing committee any immediate reason why they did not turn up for their matches,” the ITTF said.

“However, due to the players’ explanations, both their own and CTTA’s assurances that such behavior will not be repeated, the three players will not receive any suspension and will be fined US$20,000 each.”

The CTTA is the Chinese Table Tennis Association, which, following the debacle, pulled the men’s team from the Australian Open because of “tiredness.”

The players accepted their punishment, the ITTF said, adding: “The ITTF is looking forward to welcoming Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin back to the ITTF World Tour and for the three icons of the sport to be role models for the millions of table tennis players across the world.”


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