National paddler Li Hu suspended for breaking house rules after letting girlfriend spend night at hostel

Li Hu was asked to sign a resignation letter prepared by the Singapore Table Tennis Association. It is dated Oct 14.
Li Hu was asked to sign a resignation letter prepared by the Singapore Table Tennis Association. It is dated Oct 14.PHOTO COURTESY OF LI HU

National paddler's future in doubt after letting girlfriend spend night at STTA hostel

National table tennis player Li Hu said last night that he was suspended by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) because he had violated house rules.

He told The Straits Times that he had let his girlfriend spend the night at the STTA hostel, located at its Toa Payoh headquarters where he had been living.

Li, 28, was confronted by a senior STTA official last Friday for this misconduct. He said the official suggested that he resign from the team as punishment for violating rules - or he may face further disciplinary action.

The STTA subsequently drafted a resignation letter - written in Chinese - for Li to sign, detailing that the reason for his resignation was to take responsibility for this specific misconduct.

"I just wanted to spend some time with my girlfriend," said Li, the world No. 58, whose girlfriend of a year is a Chinese national. "I never thought that it would be such a serious offence that it would lead to me being removed from the team and put my whole career in jeopardy."

Li Hu was asked to sign a resignation letter prepared by the Singapore Table Tennis Association. It is dated Oct 14. PHOTO COURTESY OF LI HU


Li, who is Singapore's second-ranked men's paddler behind Gao Ning, is separately assisting the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) with an investigation.

The CPIB probe took place on Wednesday, five days after he signed the letter.

Of the girlfriend incident, he said he pleaded with the association's senior management and gave assurances in writing that he would not commit any more disciplinary offences.

Li, who came to Singapore from Hubei in 2010 and became a citizen in 2011, recently bought an HDB flat.

"I still have so much I can give to Singapore and to the national team, I still want to contribute and I always intended to continue staying here," he said. "I made a mistake and just hope that it will not affect my desire to continue playing table tennis for Singapore."

STTA president Ellen Lee told ST on Wednesday that Li's contract has not been terminated yet but he is suspended. The association is setting up a disciplinary committee to review the case. She added that the association has a sub-committee for these purposes.

It is understood that Sport Singapore (SportSG), the parent governing body for national sports associations, will not be involved in the disciplinary proceedings.

Responding to queries by ST, a SportSG spokesman said: "(The) STTA had kept SportSG informed of the athlete's alleged misconduct and their intention to initiate disciplinary proceedings. We are satisfied that the due process will be transparent to the athlete and fair."

Li declined to comment further on the CPIB probe. But it is understood that his mother is also assisting with that investigation. She had travelled to Singapore from Hubei on Monday after learning of her son's suspension following the incident involving his girlfriend.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Li Hu suspended for breaking house rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe