China's paddlers fined for revolt

Table tennis authorities hit world No. 1 Ma Long and two other Chinese stars with US$20,000 (S$27,000) fines yesterday but stopped short of suspending them after they quit a tournament in protest of their coach's removal.

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) said that 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 the ITTF said in a statement that it had resisted a one-month ban after the trio promised there would be no repeat in future and explained why they had failed to turn up for their Round-of-16 matches in 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 apologised and China's all-conquering table tennis team closed ranks.

The players have accepted their punishment, the ITTF said. - AFP

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