Zhao Xintong has been added to the list of suspended snooker players from China, it has been announced on Tuesday.
Countryman Zhang Jiankang has also been suspended by the WPBSA pending an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption.
It brings the total number of Chinese players who are suspended from the sport to a staggering number of ten.
The first to be banned was Liang Wenbo in October before seven more were deemed in December to also be involved in some way.
Former Masters champion Yan Bingtao had been the highest-profile name, but the inclusion of Zhao Xintong will create even bigger shock waves.
The 25 year-old produced a scintillating performance to win the 2021 UK Championship and two months later triumphed at the German Masters – beating Yan 9-0 in a surprising final result in Berlin.
Zhao is the current world number nine and the highest ranked competitor to be embroiled in the escalating scandal.
Zhang, meanwhile, first turned professional back in 2018 and has twice reached the last 16 of ranking tournaments.
“WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson has taken the decision to suspend Zhao Xintong and Zhang Jiankang from attending or competing on the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect,” the statement read.
“This decision is part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of manipulating the outcome of matches for betting purposes in breach of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations.”
“The suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the investigation or any subsequent charges that may or may not be brought. Both Zhao and Zhang have the right to appeal this decision.
“The WPBSA can confirm that the wider investigation is now at an advanced stage, and it is anticipated will be completed shortly at which point any potential charges will be considered.
“No further comment will be made at this time, except in the event of any significant further developments.”
Featured photo credit: WST