Two clubs have been kicked out of China’s basketball league amid suspicions of match-fixing.
The ruling came after the Chinese Basketball Association judged the Jiangsu Dragons and Shanghai Sharks engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct during a playoff series last week.
They will also be suspended from this year’s regular season, fined the equivalent of $5 million, and have their managers and coaching staff barred from the league for up to five years.
Fan and media attention was drawn to a last-minute, come-from-behind win by Shanghai following a series of turnovers in the last of their three games to reach the quarterfinals.
In Friday’s Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs, the Jiangsu Dragons led the Shanghai Sharks 100-96 with 1 minute, 36 seconds left to play.
The Dragons then committed five straight turnovers over the next minute, giving the Sharks a 10-point lead. The game ended in a 108-104 win for Shanghai and a 2-1 victory in the series, sending the Sharks into the quarters.
The CBA, headed by NBA great Yao Ming, announced on Saturday it wanted reports from both teams on their conduct during the series.
The investigation highlighted continuing suspicions about widespread corruption in Chinese professional sports, especially in football.
Basketball remains enormously popular in China, mostly because of Yao’s storied NBA career. That’s despite a year-long ban on NBA games being shown in the country after a team executive angered Beijing with remarks supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.