Wed, Feb 14, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Charges fly in China harassment case

AFP , BEIJING

A sexual harassment case involving a teenage Chinese woman pool player took a new twist yesterday amid charges that top officials tried to silence her and also siphoned off training funds.

At a press conference on Monday, Zhou Ruixin (周瑞新), who runs a Shanghai pool hall, said officials had retaliated against his daughter for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment while they had also pocketed thousands of dollars in cash from sports ministry funds.

"Some leading officials at the Multi-ball Games Administration Center did things that cannot bear the light of day," Zhou was quoted as saying in the China Daily.

The center, under the sports ministry, is responsible for cue sports such as pool, billiards and snooker.

The sexual harassment case blew up in December when Zhou Mengmeng, 19, (周萌萌) told the media she had been harassed and beaten by Tian Pengfei (田鵬飛), a double gold medalist in snooker at the Asian Games, according to media reports..

Following an investigation, China's sports ministry decided last month to ban both players for a year, punishing Zhou for speaking out to the media about the incident that took place at the Asian Games in Doha.

At Monday's press conference in Shanghai, her father said that sports officials had also blocked his daughter from travelling abroad, intervening to stop her from obtaining a visa to play in the US.

He also made graft charges against a unnamed top official from the center.

Zhou said four pool players, a coach and a senior official visited Shanghai in August to train for the Doha Asian Games.

He said that hotel bills for the trip were inflated by almost US$3,000.

"They cooked accounts and likely took possession of training funds allotted by the country for the Doha Asian Games worth 22,400 yuan [US$2,870]," Zhou said.

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