During the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum China Open held in Chengdu, China in June 2017, the top three table tennis players in the world: MA Long, FAN Zhendong and XU Xin, did not turn up for their round of 16 matches, subsequently forfeiting their matches.
The trio did not provide the ITTF or the organizing committee any immediate reason why they did not turn up for their matches. This behaviour meant the ITTF was required to set up a disciplinary panel appointed by the ITTF Executive Committee to investigate the incident and determine appropriate sanction.
The disciplinary panel reviewed all the evidence at hand, including asking for three players for an official statement which was received, as well as taking into account the public statements made by the three players, and the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) regarding the issue.
After reviewing all the evidence, the Disciplinary Panel determined that the actions of the three players breached section 3.5.3 of the ITTF Rule book relating to Good Presentation, more specifically clause 22.214.171.124.1, which states: ‘Players have to do their upmost to win a match and shall not withdraw except for reasons of illness or injury’.
Therefore, the Disciplinary Panel has determined that the behaviour of the three players represents a breach of section 3.5.3 of Good Presentation and according to section 126.96.36.199, the Disciplinary Panel is responsible to determine the players sanction.
The Disciplinary Panel decided that due to the three players let down the global fans at the China Open due to their actions, and damaged the reputation of the ITTF, that a one month suspension would have been justified.
However due to the players’ explanations, both their own and CTTA’s assurances that such behaviour will not be repeated, the three players will not receive any suspension, and will be fined US$20,000 each for breaching section of 3.5.3 of ITTF rules.
The decision of the disciplinary panel is effective immediately (31 October 2017) due to the players have not appealed the decision, which is their constitutional right and have accepted their punishment.
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.