China’s 'ping-pong prince' suspended over casino suit
One of China’s best known table tennis champions has been suspended as head coach of the national women’s team, officials said yesterday, following reports he was at the centre of a gambling debt lawsuit.
Kong Linghui has been sent home from the World Table Tennis Championships in Germany to assist an investigation into the scandal, China’s state Xinhua news agency said.
“His acts have been a serious violation of the disciplinary provisions of national public officials,” the China Table Tennis Association said in a statement announcing its decision to suspend Kong and order him to come home.
Table tennis has a huge follow- ing in China, which has long dominated the event on the global stage, and the allegations against the Olympic gold medallist — nicknamed “ping-pong prince” — Kong are dominating domestic headlines.
In a post on his Weibo social media account, 41-year-old Kong said he was “deeply disturbed by the negative impact” of the incident but denied he had been gambling.
“My friends and family members went downstairs to the hotel’s casino to entertain themselves. I stood by to watch them. During the time they were play- ing I went to get chips for them and left my personal information,” Kong said.
He added that the “debt dispute” involved some of his friends and relatives.
But China’s top sport governing body said it had a “zero tolerance” for “any kind of violation of professional ethics and illegal acts.”
“Well-known athletes and coaches should pay more attention to their public image and the social impact (of their behaviour) and take the lead in complying with disciplines and laws,” the General Administration of Sport said on its website.