Double Olympic table tennis champion Kong Linghui (right in the picture) was suspended as head of the Chinese women’s team on Tuesday, the country’s sports association said on its website, after it emerged that he faced a lawsuit over a gambling debt.
Kong, who won gold at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games, was reported to have borrowed the equivalent of $721,000 (647,000 euros) from Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino in 2015 and had failed to repay almost half of its debt.
Kong was ordered to return from the table tennis world championships in Germany to help with the investigation, China’s Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
“China has a zero-tolerance attitude toward behavior which violates sporting ethics and laws,” the country’s government agency overseeing sport said in a statement.
41-year-old Kong Linghui himself posted a message on the Weibo microblogging service acknowledging he had visited the casino with relatives and friends.
He said he arranged for members of his party to receive gambling chips under his name, but insisted he didn’t gamble himself and was deeply upset by the allegations.
hg/jd (Reuters, AP)