BEIJING — China's cue sports authorities have handed down one-year bans to two national team players for their part in a sexual harassment scandal that broke during last December's Asian Games in Doha, local media said on Saturday.
Last month, Chinese sport officials announced a probe into its national cue sports team after 19-year-old Zhou Mengmeng told journalists in Doha that her male team mate, Tian Pengfei, had beaten and sexually harassed her prior to her losing in the Asian Games women's eight-ball pool semi-final.
She later withdrew from the bronze medal play-off, citing emotional distress.
Cue sports officials initially played down the incident saying there had been no sexual harassment, and that Zhou had been spending “too much time chatting to foreign players” and not concentrating on the competition, the China Daily reported.
The cue sports administration banned both players from all domestic competition — including international tournaments held in China – from Jan 1. 2007, as punishment for creating the scandal, the Beijing News said.
In separate punishment notices posted on their Web site, the Chinese cue sports administration said a “personal problem” between the players had led to “fighting, conflict and behaviour that seriously violated team rules.”
Zhou had “irresponsibly approached the media to go public with her personal dispute and gave up her bronze medal match,” and was ordered to apologise to the administration within 30 days.
It said Zhou had created an “extremely bad influence” on the team, but had not “properly recognised her mistakes” despite several occasions of “education”.
Tian, who had “deeply” acknowledged his mistakes, was ordered to apologise to Zhou.
Zhou brushed off the punishment, the Beijing News said.
“This has no effect (on me),” she told the paper.
“There are hardly any tournaments in China. I won't play if they ban me, but in any case they have no right to interfere with me playing in international tournaments,” Zhou said.