August 1 - Eight Asian badminton players who tried to manipulate results to improve their medal prospects were thrown out of the London 2012 Olympic women's doubles today, pending appeal, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced today.
In the biggest scandal to hit the Games so far, four teams – one from China, two from South Korea and one from Indonesia – were disqualified for deliberate unsportsmanlike behaviour that, a few moments before the decision, incurred the wrath of London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.
Immediately after the ruling, it was reported that China had accepted playing no further part but that the other two countries involved had lodged separate appeals which were being heard ahead of a BWF press conference.
In a brief statement the BWF said it had disqualified the eight players after accusing them of "not using one's best efforts to win".
"After a hearing this morning before the BWF's Disciplinary Committee the following pairs were disqualified: Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli (China); Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari (Indonesia, pictured above left and right); Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na (South Korea); and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung (South Korea)," the BWF said.
"The Indonesian and Korean pairs have appealed the decision.
"The pairs were charged under BWF's Players' Code of Conduct – Sections 4.5 and 4.16 respectively – with 'not using one's best efforts to win a match' and 'conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport'.
"The appeal process is ongoing and a final decision pending."
All four pairs were booed by spectators at the Wembley Arena after it quickly became clear what their tactics were and what they were playing at.
They appeared to be taking advantage of a newly introduced round-robin stage which acted as the catalyst for anyone trying to throw games to obtain an easier match-up in the subsequent round.
The fiasco began when, in the first women's doubles match, fans jeered China's Yu and Wang and South Koreans Jung and Kim.
The longest rally in the first game lasted four shots, with match referee Thorsten Berg coming on to the court at one point to warn the players.
Both pairs were already through to the quarterfinals, with the winners to face China's Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei.
Speaking before today's disqualifications, Korea's coach Sung Han Kook threw the book at China.
"The Chinese started this," he said.
"They did it first.
"It's a complicated thing with the draws.
"They didn't want to meet each other in the semi-final; they don't want that to happen."
Yu said the Chinese were simply aiming to preserve energy ahead of the knockout stages but she and her teammate were booed off along with their opponents.
"Actually these opponents really were strong," she said.
"This is the first time we've played them and tomorrow it's the knockout rounds, so we've already qualified and we wanted to have more energy for the knockout rounds."
An equally farcical match between South Korean third seeds Ha and Kim and Indonesian pair Jauhari and Polii was played out in a similar atmosphere as the Koreans attempted to engineer defeat.
"Either they want to trust us – we play bad or we play good," said Polii afterwards.
"Our control is only to play as good as we can."
But in a briefing to reporters before today's disqualifications, Coe denounced the apparent attempt to throw the games as "depressing" and "unacceptable".
While he confirmed that London 2012 would not be refunding tickets for short-changed spectators, he said: "Who wants to sit through something like that.
"The sadness of it is I was actually at the badminton yesterday and I saw a British competitor narrowly fail to progress but the games were incredibly competitive in front of really large enthusiastic audiences – unacceptable.
"I know the [BWF] really well and they will take that really seriously."
Britain's Athens 2004 silver medallist Gail Emms could not disguise her anger.
"I'm furious," she said.
"It is very embarrassing for our sport.
"This is the Olympic Games.
"The crowd paid good money to watch two matches."
But China's Xinhua news agency, while not condoning what happened, said that the players "did not break any rules" though their behaviour had damaged "sportsmanship and ethics".
"Is it more important for us to ensure a gold-winning opportunity, or to protect China's image and to spread the Olympic spirit?" the agency's commentary said.
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August 2012: Badminton governing body to carpet players for "not trying to win" during Olympic matches