Taiwan News, Staff Reporter
2010-02-12 12:00 AM
A total of 24 baseball stars, bookmakers and a politician were indicted for taking part in a widespread game-fixing scam Wednesday.
The charges covered games in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League between 2006 and 2009, but suspicions have expanded to the Olympics because several members of the gambling syndicate traveled to China at the time and several of the indicted players were part of the Taiwanese team, reports said.
When such rumors first surfaced late last year, prosecutors denied they had received information about foul play at the games. The topic of international competitions might become the subject of further investigations, media reports said yesterday.
At the Olympics, Taiwan first led by 2-0 and later by 7-3, but after a game full of surprises, the national team lost 7-8 to China, a country without any reputation in baseball.
Announcing the charges yesterday, prosecutors requested two-year prison sentences for Brother Elephants star outfielder Chen Chih-yuan, former La New Bears pitcher Chang Chih-chia, and former Elephant Tsai Feng-an.
Chen and Chang are two of the most famous faces in Taiwan baseball. As a result of the indictments, the Elephants announced they were expelling Chen from the team. The star, widely known as the "Golden Warrior," issued a statement Thursday proclaiming he had never accepted money nor thrown games.
The Sinon Bulls expelled Hsieh Chia-hsien, even though he was not among the players charged. Hsieh and Elephants pitcher Tsao Chin-hui were not indicted because they never fixed games despite receiving favors, including sex, from the gambling syndicate, prosecutors said.
The other teams in the CPBL reportedly said they would not sign any contracts with Hsieh, in effect ending his professional baseball career in Taiwan.
The Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council issued a ban Thursday on indicted baseball stars turning to training and teaching to make a living.
The scandal should be the last and lead to a revival of baseball, SAC Minister Tai Hsia-ling told a news conference after presenting a report on the sport to the regular weekly Cabinet meeting.
She said she had reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education that the baseball players sacked by their teams after the indictments would not be allowed to work as teachers in the education system or as professional trainers.
Tai touted a government program for closer cooperation between prosecutors and baseball teams, with the former telling players about their responsibilities. An emergency warning system was also in place, she said.
After the start of the new season on March 20, prosecutors will attend games to detect irregularities.
The SAC would also demand reforms this year, including the introduction of free agents and player transfers, a minimum wage, pension changes and an arbitrage system for disputes, Tai said.
The scandal also had political repercussions since the ruling Kuomintang's top politician in Tainan County, Council Speaker Wu Chien-pao, was described as the brains behind the whole operation.
Wu was accused of threatening violence against players unwilling to participate in game-fixing involving the now-disbanded Chinatrust Whales.
Prosecutors demanded the toughest sentence against him, nine years in prison combined with a fine of NT$50 million and followed by three years hard labor.