One of the Chinese badminton players disqualified from the Olympics for trying to lose a match has said she is quitting the sport, accusing the badminton governing body of ruining her dreams.
"This is my last match," Yu Yang wrote on her microblog account late Wednesday. "Farewell Badminton World Federation, farewell my beloved badminton."
Yu; her women's doubles partner, Wang Xiaoli; and six other players were kicked out of the competition Wednesday by the Badminton World Federation in one of the most controversial episodes of the London Games so far.
The athletes were accused of playing to lose in order to face easier opponents in future matches, drawing boos from spectators and warnings from match officials Tuesday night. The other doubles pairs booted out were from South Korea and Indonesia.
All four duos were charged by the federation with not doing their best to win a match and abusing or demeaning the sport.
While the Indonesian and South Korean pairs both unsuccessfully appealed the decision, the Chinese sporting authorities accepted the ruling and the country's head badminton coach apologized for the players' behavior.
But Yu and Wang, ranked No. 1 in the world, were defiant in their posts on their accounts on Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. They blamed injuries and the rules of the competition for the controversy.
"We were injured before the match," Yu wrote. "And we were using the rule to give up the match to be better prepared for the knockout round. Do you know how much pain we suffer when we athletes get injured and still have to compete?"
She said the federation's decision to disqualify them had "dashed our dreams."
At 26, Yu is relatively young to be leaving the sport. There are women's doubles players among the top 10 pairs in the world who are still competing beyond the age of 30.
She appeared to be sticking to her intentions Thursday, changing her profile information on her Weibo account from "badminton player" to "freelancer."
But her official team apology was less unequivocal.
"I apologize to all our fans because we failed to abide by the Olympic spirit and failed to present a game as it should have been ... I am ready to do my best in every game of my professional career in the future, to show all of my fans that I've changed," it read.
Reached by telephone, an official at the Chinese Table Tennis and Badminton Center, which is affiliated with the country's General Administration of Sports, was unable to provide any information about Yu's status. The official declined to give his name and title.
The disqualifications resulted from two lackluster contests in London that angered the watching crowds as the doubles pairs appeared to be serving into the net on purpose.
The eight players concerned had all already qualified for the quarterfinals of the tournament before the final matches of the group stage Tuesday night.
The Chinese Olympic delegation "fully respects the Badminton World Federation's decision to punish" its athletes, it said in a statement.
"The actions of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on the court have violated Olympic principles and the spirit of fair athletic competition. The Chinese Sports Delegation feels saddened," it said.
The delegation is investigating the Chinese players' conduct, it said, "and will make appropriate rulings based on the result."
The head coach of the Chinese badminton team, Li Yongbo, expressed contrition for what happened.
"As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," he said, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua. "Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."
The state-run television station CCTV aired footage of Wang and Yu apologizing. But their microblog accounts told a different story.
"I can't believe we fought so hard for four years and the result is this!" Wang wrote. "I tried hard at the match with a body full of injuries."
She said she and her partner paid the price for the federation's "imperfect game rules."
Xinhua published reports in Chinese based on the two athletes' angry Weibo comments.