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Taiwanese Pro Baseball Is Rocked by Fix Scandal

March 19, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

Eleven of Taiwan's biggest baseball stars are under suspension at either half-pay or no pay and face possible imprisonment and a lifetime ban for allegedly throwing games in the worst gambling scandal to hit Taiwanese professional sports.

Investigations show millions of dollars were bet on games in the seven-team Chinese Professional Baseball League, and bribes paid to players reportedly topped $36,000 a game.

Pitcher Kuo Chian-Cheng, the only player so far to admit to throwing games, claims "almost all players" were pressured by gambling syndicates, raising the likelihood more will have their seasons cut short. Most of the arrested players have been from Kuo's China Times Eagles team.

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office declined to comment on the investigation, but prosecutors quoted in newspapers say the syndicates spent $360,000 a game on big bribes to key players and smaller ones to buy the silence of others.

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Two Malaysians and three Hong Kong residents have been charged with taking illegal bets, and 32 others--including five jockeys--have been arrested over the past two days as one of the British colony's worse horse racing scandals gathered steam.

The five were charged with illegal bookmaking and all pleaded not guilty.

Officials are investigating a gambling scandal and possible race fixing on Hong Kong's racecourses. No one has been charged with fixing a race.

Horse Racing

Owner-breeder Allen Paulson and syndicate partner Coolmore Stud have filed an infertility insurance claim on Cigar, the 1995-96 horse of the year.

The policy is for $25 million and it required that Cigar cover 20 mares twice and get at least 60% of them in foal to be considered fertile. None of the 34 mares bred to him has become in foal.

Tennis

Top-seeded Michael Stich, his arm aching and his game far from sharp, needed a final set tiebreaker to avoid a first-round upset by Richard Fromberg, winning, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), in the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.

A hand injury caused second-seeded Greg Rusedski of Britain, who won his opening match the previous day, to drop out of the tournament.

Motor Sports

Stock-car driver Stanley Smith, who wears a permanent eye patch because of previous wrecks, remained hospitalized in Birmingham, Ala., after suffering several broken vertebrae in a Saturday crash in Montgomery. Smith was fitted for a brace and was able to walk around his hospital floor on Tuesday and spent much of the day sitting up. Smith was caught in a seven-car wreck at Talladega, Ala., on July 25, 1993, and his skull was cracked from ear to ear. Doctors had to block a major artery to keep him alive during the operation.

He wears a patch because his left eye doesn't move and probably never will. His peripheral vision is limited, but with special mirrors he is still able to drive.

Miscellany

Texas state Rep. Kim Brimer (R-Arlington) has suggested a fee of up to $5,000 a game for professional athletes to use public arenas as a means to raise money for those facilities. Texas has no state income tax, so Brimer has suggested taxing the athletes and broadcasters who benefit from public investment in sports palaces. Team officials have protested the proposed legislation, Dallas Star President Jim Lites saying, "The [NHL] will move out of Dallas before they do that."

Eastern Michigan will replace Army on Michigan's 1998 schedule and play the Wolverines for the first time in 67 years. . . . Saudi Arabia and Malaysia played to a scoreless draw in World Cup soccer qualifying in Kuala Lumpur.

Names in the News

Veteran defensive tackle Reuben Davis agreed to a four-year contract with the San Diego Chargers. . . . Graciano Rocchigiani of Germany tested positive for the stimulant ephidrine after a World Boxing Organization bout last year, but the required follow-up test was never taken, officials said. Rocchigiani, who would have faced a three-month ban if found to have taken banned substances, instead will go ahead with Saturday's WBO light-heavyweight fight against American John Scully in Berlin.

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* Randy Harvey has the day off.

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